Smart Grid

January 28, 2013

WiMAX Forum Issues Requirements for Wireless Broadband-Enabled Smart Grid

Being “connected” used to have unsavory implications. No more. With the evolution of the smart grid, “connectivity” is in every electric utility’s lexicon—and it refers to a separate wireless broadband infrastructure capable of delivering 24/7 high-speed communication s to provide a variety of service enhancements; such as cost-effective backhaul of AMI data, demand response, and outage management.

But, because the smart grid is still a comparatively new phenomenon, to date, there has been no standard for wireless broadband infrastructure. Now, the WiMAX Forum (News - Alert) has announced the publication of its System Profile Requirements for Smart Grid Applications,prepared for the utility industry by theSan Diego-based organization’s Smart Grid Working Group (see video).

Established in June 2001, theWiMAX Forum is not-for-profit industry group that certifies and promotes the compatibility and interoperability of broadband wireless products; based upon the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE (News - Alert)) Standard 802.16e, which is specifically for utility metropolitan area networks (MANs).  The new requirements codify work done on WiGRID, an optimized IEEE 802.16 profile for Utility Field Area Networking applications.

The WiMAX Forum’s primary goal is to accelerate the adoption, deployment and expansion of WiMAX technologies worldwide while facilitating roaming agreements, sharing best practices and certifying products. WiMAXForum-Certifiedproducts are interoperable and support broadband fixed, nomadic, portable and mobile services. The WiMAX Forum works closely with service providers and regulators to ensure that WiMAX Forum Certified systems meet customer and government requirements.

"Approval of the “WiMAX System Profile Requirements for Smart Grid Applications” document establishes WiMAX, through WiGRID, as a technology capable of meeting the demands of smart grid wireless application," stated Eugene Crozier, wireless architect at BC Hydro and chair of the working group. "The publication specifically provides the implementation details to meet typical utility use cases and describes the WiMAX specifications required of equipment used for electricity management. It was developed by manufacturers and utilities working together, and is an important step in the road to standardization and certification of IEEE 802.16 products for use in utility networks."

The proposed WiGRID System profile is an Ethernet version of IEEE 802.16 that includes numerous new features that allow uplink-centric data communications, lower latency, extended range; and enables the use of new frequency bands that various utilities hold (1.4 GHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.3 GHz, 3.65 GHz and 5.8 GHz).

"Electric utilities require nearly ubiquitous telecommunications coverage over their service areas to enable 'Smart Grid' applications," said Paul Senior (News - Alert), vice chair of the working group and CTO of Airspan Networks. "WiGRID technology provides a reliable wireless communications medium to ensure smart grid functionality, and is an excellent complement to wireline technologies already in use. Our new requirements document provides utilities and vendors with the information they need to advance this revolution in field area networking technology."

Edited by Carlos Olivera