The electric utility sector is among the most significant test cases for 5G technology. 5G standard is expected to offer the functionalities to support the mission-critical operations of electric utilities. Here is more for electric utility CIOs to know.
FREMONT, CA: 5G, is heralded as the ‘must-have' wireless technology igniting the world. The vision of 5G is setting an ambition to enable a world in which everything is provided wirelessly to the end device by converged mobile infrastructure. It is estimated that 5G will result in 100 million mobile connections by 2023 and 1.9 billion global subscriptions by the end of 2024. This evolution of wireless networks towards 5G is also bringing exceptional opportunities for electric utilities. Electric utility CIOs today are looking up to 5G as an essential facilitator that can help their companies thrive in the market with improved performance. See how 5G adds value to electric utilities.
• Quality of Service
The use of 5G cellular networks can provide electric utilities with reliability, security, and other benefits. 5G operates in a licensed spectrum that forms the foundation for offering excellent quality of service, which makes way for electric utilities to provide a quality of service over a long life cycle—an essential requirement in the electric utility sector. Additionally, modern 5G network equipment incorporates redundancy features to help ensure continued operation even when there is a component failure.
• Smart Metering
Just like other major cellular technologies, 5G is backed by global standards, helping to ensure interoperability among devices and networks. The comprehensive standard-based approach has created a vast ecosystem, including chip developers, device makers, infrastructure vendors, and service providers, which leads to low device deployment and operation costs. As a result, some of the electric utility leaders in the world are adopting 5G for smart metering. Besides, the competition among network operators to expand their businesses into 5G opportunities has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the price of cellular connectivity, which is beneficial for electric utility CIOs. When taking performance into account, 5G solutions can deliver the highest performance, a trend that is expected to revolutionize the electric utility sector as a whole.
• Overflying and Monitoring Assets
Electric utilities need visibility into their infrastructure for routine inspections and to discover and assess damage after disasters. At present, the unmanned aerial vehicle is used for this purpose, but they cannot routinely be used beyond visual range. However, with the arrival of 5G, and regulations introduced to allow the UAVs to fly autonomously beyond visible line of sight make the use of utility asset management could be bettered. UAVs could overfly power lines recording data for later examination, and the ability to relay video images with the 5G network in real-time can dramatically enhance their value. Development in 5G can radically enhance inspection capabilities and reduce restoration times following faults, generating a real business case for 5G deployment in electric utilities.
• Asset Maintenance
When it comes to repairs and maintenance of electric utility assets, demonstrations of virtual reality safety helmets are impressive. These helmets have head-up displays and voice activation to enable operatives to call up detailed work instructions, manuals, videos, network status information, and infrared images while leaving their hands free for work. Such information enhances productivity and safety but requires high data bandwidth. 5G would be an essential facilitator for this enhanced method of working. Also, 5G is expected to eventually enable new electric utility services with ultra-reliability and low latency for use cases such as remotely controlling critical power infrastructures, allowing utilities to send commands to distribution devices to change their configurations or to manage their operations in real-time, with an end-to-end message latency down to one microsecond.
5G is undoubtedly catching all the enthusiasm right now, so it is no surprise that energy utility companies are working to figure out whether they have a role in the space. The need for higher efficiencies, security, and better user experience will drive electric utility CIOs to adopt 5G for their critical operations. One thing is sure that 5G is not just about multi Gbps speed during peak usage but will allow utilities to tap into new capabilities to enhance customer satisfaction, reduce operational costs, and improve the quality of their services as well.