of 691,200. The catch, however, is coverage: LMR can
stretch out five times as far as LTE and the data rate
remains constant throughout.
How many switches would your utility need to control
to get an early return out of distribution automation?
The LMR figures are often more than sufficient. It is
certainly less expensive to add a couple of dedicated
data channels to your existing LMR sites than to
roll out broadband to do the same work. On the
other hand, another utility may have a completely
different Smart Grid priority application, such as
high-resolution streaming video that is capacity-constrained. LMR is not a contender here, but LTE
is clearly a candidate.
The simple fact is that utilities are not all cut from
the same cloth. They may be in the same line of
business, but can vary widely in their communications
requirements and priorities. To improve your
commercial operations or to solve your most pressing
business problems, you may identify different Smart
Grid applications as priorities to be deployed over
a mix of communication technologies. Weigh up
capacity versus coverage, cost versus benefit, owned
versus contracted to decide which technologies should
host which applications. In short, utilities have
options right now for the Smart Grid.
There is a smooth migration story here. Utilities
have already invested in radio, particularly for voice,
which is used in day-to-day and emergency response
operations. Voice over wireless broadband (LTE/WiMAX)
standards have not been agreed upon yet and are still
several years away.
“Utilities can start right now to improve
their business with Smart Grid. You can
leverage existing technologies such as
LMR over a wide coverage area, and
with a digital upgrade connect them
into a private broadband deployment
in dense population areas, which can
grow over time.”
A better strategy is to consider the options and create a
mixture of the best wireless communications networks
to reduce cost and increase regulatory compliance.
Most modern digital LMR systems such as the Digital
Mobile Radio (DMR) standard contain open interfaces
allowing them to be linked into Broadband IP systems.
This supports a unified approach that offers choice.
Existing LMR is an immediate starting point especially
over large coverage areas that extend into both rural
and suburban territory. Private broadband may be
an excellent choice for dense urban areas that have