Communication Network Upgrades Program

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Improving Power Quality and Reliability

Our communication systems are the bridge between control systems, analytics systems and devices in the field (e.g., automated switches and controllers, sensors, smart meters and computers in trucks). The Communication Network Upgrades program will help improve power quality and reliability and provide more options for our customers.

These upgrades also include new and replacement fiber, microwave radio and tower installations, as well as upgrading cellular communicating devices from 2G/3G communication technologies. This is necessary because 2G communication technologies will be decommissioned soon by cellular carriers to more modern communication networks.

Benefits

  • Improves the reliability, speed and accuracy of data to grid operators, enabling faster responses to issues on the grid that could lead to service interruptions for customers
  • Enhances customer value by allowing interconnected systems to work more effectively

Communication network upgrades will improve system resiliency and create more efficient grid operations through:

  • Enabling real-time monitoring and operation of digital grid devices
  • Increasing data capacity to retrieve more information and data from field devices and other critical assets
  • Upgrading field worker radio systems and installing Vehicle Area Networks technology to increase efficiency of routing crews for storm response activities and routine maintenance work
The backbone of our communication systems is our fiber network.

Fiber network

Strategic fiber installations and replacements will allow us to replace obsolete communication technologies with high-speed fiber connections providing the speed, bandwidth, capacity and communication reliability required to support modern digital and automated grid equipment.

Real-time grid management

The upgraded communication network will allow us to manage the grid remotely in near real time rather than relying on manual updates at problem areas. The communication system can proactively identify issues between two poles. Historically, we would gather this information from customer calls or from our linemen patrolling outage locations.

Communication sub-networks

Another key component of our communication upgrades is focused on creating and improving sub-networks. Types of sub-networks include:
  • Vehicle Area Network (VAN), which will enable field workers to securely connect to Wi-Fi hotspots to use multiple network connected devices (such as hand-held tablets used to assess storm damage and wearable communication devices to improve worker safety).
  • Grid Wide Area Network (Grid WAN), which will convert substation communication systems to reliable and secure internet protocol-based communications. It will also support the dynamic communication needs emerging from automated solar, battery storage and microgrid system devices.