The EcoCom SIG Presents...

Utility Communications Networks for the Next Decade

Public Utilities, whether electric, gas or water, face considerable challenges in the next decade to deliver greater efficiency and operational effectiveness while dealing with stretched supply lines, the need to modernize and growing resistance to costs being passed on to end-users. Many Utilities face one or more of the following:
• The upgrade or replacement of aging infrastructure;
• The modernization of systems to meet tough new environmental regulations;
• The minimization of operating expenditures in the face of a variety of economic pressures;
• Integration of renewable energy sources or green consumer products;
• The adoption of new models of value creation;
• Reaction to liberalization, convergence and competition for end customers

In many ways one of the biggest investment risks for Utilities (and for their regulators, rate payers and investors) are the telecommunications networks required to support network wide modernization, for without modern communication networks Utilities cannot take advantage of such technologies as:
• Remote reading of consumer meters;
• Condition based maintenance monitoring;
• Load shedding technologies;
• Demand response technology;
• Remote connect and disconnect

Implementation of these communication networks, so different from the legacy systems in place today, requires a paradigm shift in understanding and thinking. Without well thought-out and robust communication platforms, network modernization may not meet the lofty expectations that have been bandied about. Utilities may need to understand issues including but not limited to:
• What communications technologies to use;
• How to effectively locate sensors in challenging topographical environments;
• What is the availability of suitable spectrum for wireless communications;
• How to undertake the data mining of the Terra bytes of information that can potentially be collected from the network and consumer alike.

Our panel of local Utility CIO’s and senior executives will discuss their current and future telecommunications initiatives and some of the challenges that have been identified.

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