Communication technologies are playing an indispensable role in the utility industry as service providers look to make offerings safe and reliable.
FREMONT, CA: Smart grids, intelligent metering systems, advanced power plants, and improved transmission infrastructure have been points of focus for utilities. However, the underlying impact of communications systems has often gone unnoticed. Communications play an integral role in the utility industry's operations. With the modernization of infrastructure, it is telecommunications that enable coordinated, reliable, and efficient functionalities. Thus, utility communications, which have been obscured from view until recently, are being widely discussed among stakeholders.
In the case of day-to-day operations, communication networks are crucial for delivering services to end-users with minimum disruptions. When transmission and delivery infrastructures leverage advanced telecommunications, utility operators discover new ways to manage services more effectively and ensure customer satisfaction. Mostutility companies build and manage their own communication infrastructure with customized features that serve specific purposes. However, the ongoing digital transformations in the utility sector have created the need for flexible and scalable communication systems with improved features and capacities.
From a broader perspective, utility communications support the deployment of advanced facilities in the evolving sector. Be it the integration of distributed, nonconventional energy sources, or be it the expansion of smart grids, communication networks are vital. Delivering the benefits of modern technology to the end-user is possible only with an excellent communication network. Besides, a range of mission-critical fun
ctions in the utility sector depends completely on communication technology. During and after the occurrence of natural calamities, it is the utility communication system that determines how fast service providers can respond and recover from outages. The advancements in wireless technology now allow utility companies to carry out recovery tasks immediately in the aftermath of breakdowns.
Apart from enabling quick response capabilities by connecting and coordinating teams, communications systems also add value to security infrastructure. Physical security is important for protecting the extensive and distributed utilities from risks. Advanced surveillance relies on communication systems. High power surveillance equipment is controlled remotely through networks. Besides, the vast volumes of high-resolution data captured through surveillance cameras have to be transported through communication channels to control rooms. In the absence of robust communication channels, it becomes difficult to take advantage of modern surveillance systems. Utility communications are, thus, essential to boost physical security measures. Alerts regarding threats and intrusions can only be relayed in real-time with high-speed communication capabilities.
Utility providers require communication services that are highly reliable, and this prevents most utility companies from opting for external carriers. Private networks have always been the preferred option for utility firms as these are custom-made and provide comprehensive coverage wherever required. For facilities situated in remote locations, private networks are especially viable. As utilities embrace automation, private communication systems are going to get even more crucial.
Utility communications make use of wireless as well as cable-based communications. Depending on the cost and functionality, many utility companies opt for a combination of wireless and wire-enabled infrastructure. Wireless utility communications allow companies to overcome the limitations of terrain and geography. Microwave and fiber are two widely used mediums of communication in the utility sector. However, survey reports point to the fact that fiber may find more takers owing to the convenience it brings. Overall, the demand for communication technologies is set to grow within the utility sector and result in higher resilience and better quality of services.