Utilities rely on their land mobile radios (LMR) and the communications infrastructure that connects them. When cellular carrier service becomes unavailable during or after a natural disaster, utilities need secure, ultra-reliable communications. Utilities across the country are under constant pressure to improve worker safety, be prepared for a multitude of events, and maintain continuity of business operations, all while ensuring reliable communications for operational needs.

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According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), all structures exceeding 200 feet above ground level, and under 200 feet in height when they may interfere with the flight path of an airport, must be appropriately marked with tower lights. Failure to maintain operable obstruction lighting is a finable offense at up to $1,000 per day – so utilities are serious about monitoring and maintain these safety lights.

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One key component of the utility’s operations is the management of their work crews that install and maintain the grid infrastructure. The mobile network must have the appropriate capacity and coverage to serve all the crews within their area of operations. Bandwidth and reliability are critical when crews need to communicate that the damage has been repaired or if they need additional time and resources.

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Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters generate vast amounts of data that can help utilities optimize their services delivery and network. A connected digital grid can help increase efficiencies and cut costs. The AMI infrastructure requires reliable communication between thousands of devices and a centralized data management system cost supports the case for wireless infrastructure.

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Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) including demand response, efficiency programs and Distributed Generation (DG) from solar and wind help keep the electric grid balanced and reliable. Volt VAR Optimization (VVO) technology optimizes power factor control in combination with flattening the voltage profile of an electric distribution feeder by applying intelligent controls to capacitors and voltage regulators on the line.

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The latest urgent issue for electric utilities is fire prevention. Powerline-caused wildfires puts a utility and their customers at a tremendous risk both financially and more importantly threatens their safety and security. Using a combination of fault indicators that report status, and remote controlled reclosers and sectionalizers, a utility can quickly isolate and de-energize the damaged circuits, thus minimizing the chances of creating a fire.

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This short podcast includes highlights of Tami’s Keynote, which covered areas such as Southern Linc’s needs that brought them to the decision to stand up a Private Network and their experience doing so.

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See The Whitepaper Utilities and their customers have been focused on electric service reliability since the first systems were installed. Today, the electric grid is growing more complex as we add electrical loads and generation in places not anticipated in the original grid designs. Our very own Cybersecurity working group that is comprised of thought…

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I started my career working at Motorola installing wireless systems as a field engineer/project leader, and I later returned to serve as a systems engineer manager for worldwide deployments. I also worked at Southern Linc as a senior engineer and later as Manager of Technology Development. Between these Southern Linc roles, I worked at Sprint as a network design manager and for the past 10 years, I worked at Duke Energy in a variety of roles, the last of which was a technology evaluation manager. Now, I’m at Xcel Energy as a Senior Manager over network strategy and planning in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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I am a Senior Product Manager, within GE’s industrial communications product line, working for the MDS wireless group. My education is in electrical engineering at Geneva College, and I’ve spent 21 years executing software design and firmware development. Most of that was here at MDS doing wireless product design and development focused on the energy and industrial industries.

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