EnergyAustralia’s smart grid to use LTE

EnergyAustralia will become the first utility to use ‘Long Term Evolution’ (LTE) for its 4G communications network after signing an agreement with Ericsson in November 2010 as part of the energy company’s smart grid roll-out.

EnergyAustralia managing director, George Maltabarow said a 4G machine-to-machine communications network using WiMAX and LTE standards was being built across about 150 sites in Sydney, Central Coast and Hunter.

“A smart grid needs a communications platform to bring real-time data back from our substations, field devices and smart meters so we can turn it into useful information for field staff, engineers and households,” Mr Maltabarow said.

“The communications network is essential to transforming the electricity network into a two-way grid that is smarter, greener, more reliable and more interactive for households.

“The 4G network will transmit data between 12,000 smart monitoring devices, up to 3000 mobile field computers and 200 major zone substations.

“We are now rolling out a WiMAX communications network and will begin trials of an LTE platform at 15 sites next year, with the plan to move to a full LTE network.

“By using the same LTE technology as mobile carriers, we will benefit from economies-of-scale for chip, device and equipment pricing as 3G networks around the world migrate to LTE.

“One of the major benefits for choosing this 4G/LTE platform is its approach to cyber-security – a key consideration in selecting technology for the electricity industry.”

Under the agreement, Ericsson, as prime integrator, will provide equipment, software and services to operate the network at 150 sites, including the WiMAX solution from Airspan Networks.

EnergyAustralia’s 4G network will cover the five locations that are part of the ‘Smart Grid, Smart City’ project – Newcastle, Scone, Ku-ring-gai, Newington and Sydney CBD.