- Industry: Energy & Utilities
This utility is already about a quarter of the way into a multi-year grid modernization and distribution automation program. To support this program, and in conjunction with its carrier planning retirement of analog telephone circuits, the utility is upgrading the communications network connecting its substations—with fiber optic cable running between larger sites and WiMAX wireless connectivity reaching from that fiber backbone to smaller substations.
The utility initially selected a standards-based WiMAX solution to avoid future risks of being locked into a single vendor’s proprietary technology. Although the solution worked as expected, the utility wanted to be sure it addressed all relevant technical and business considerations before moving ahead with broader WiMAX deployment. Accordingly, it sought to conduct a side-by-side test of two leading 3.65 GHz WiMAX solutions to evaluate performance, interoperability, and other key solution characteristics.
Technical expertise plus a strong business perspective
For assistance with conducting the test, the utility turned to West Monroe Partners. A West Monroe team was working closely with the utility to roll out WiMAX across its service territory and had extensive knowledge of the utility’s operations and cybersecurity strategy. In addition, West Monroe offered a robust test plan and resources for completing the process efficiently.
West Monroe Partners designed a test plan that addressed three primary goals:
- Verify the potential for true interoperability between two vendors’ standards-based WiMAX solutions
- Gather and compare quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the two solutions
- Validate the value of utilizing a standards-based solution
West Monroe developed a detailed list of quantitative and qualitative characteristics to evaluate. To ensure consistent measurement of the quantitative characteristics, the test plan called for evaluating both solutions as a single-vendor solution and as an interoperable solution. Over a four-week period, West Monroe Partners conducted thorough testing, research, and vendor interviews and produced a detailed, comprehensive report.
The test report allowed the utility to evaluate the two solutions and decide whether to continue deployment with its current vendor or to change vendors. Although each solution presented some unique advantages and disadvantages, the utility chose to continue with its current vendor.
Moreover, the insight gained from this exercise established confidence that should a change become necessary in the future, the utility now understands the issues it could encounter (for example, new training for technicians or material management procedures) and ways to mitigate those issues. The utility is also confident that it is realizing the full benefits of a standards-based solution.
To obtain a copy of the white paper that details the tests, please reach out to Jim McClanahan.