There are several possible functions rural electric and telephone companies could find for a private wireless network, from coordination with work forces, communicating with smart grid networks, operating security cameras and even last-mile voice and data service to consumers. A growing ecosystem of devices for private LTE (pLTE) networks, based the same technology that millions of consumers use for 4G mobile phone service, is opening an increasing number of opportunities, including wireless interfaces for electric utilities.
“I expect that we’ll have prototype deployments throughout 2022. Lots of capabilities will be added on top of the LTE network that are really outstanding for the meters,” said Joe Walsh, VP, NRTC’s Smart Grid Advisory and Networks, during a recent webinar. “NRTC will be conducting a couple of pilots in Q1. We’re in the process of evaluating LTE equipment manufacturers. As we conduct those pilots, we’ll be happy to report out what we’re hearing and what we’re seeing.”
Walsh led two pLTE webinars in November, one focused on uses cases for electric members and the other for telco uses. NRTC is planning for a series of additional pLTE webinars in 2022 and welcomes member suggestions for targeted webinar topics, he said.