Significant changes are gaining momentum in Telecommunications around Smart Grid for utilities of all sizes.

Whether you are an Investor Owned Utility, Municipality or Cooperative; telecommunications for any smart device in your electrical network is becoming a crucial component in operating your grid.   In order to deliver cost effective power, reliably and efficiently, as well as reduce costs and meet energy efficiency standards, a roadmap for your telecom strategy is a necessity.

With the addition of smart grid technologies and developing market in wired and wireless telecommunications you may be asking:

  • How do I look to the future and predict the type of communications support I will need?
  • What smart grid devices am I employing? 
  • What are the communication protocols of my devices? 
  • How much bandwidth will the addition of these devices take? 
  • How do I secure my devices and data? 
  • How will I monitor, control, configure and manage these devices? 
  • What frequencies will I need to utilize and how do those frequencies propagate?
  • Should I use Commercial carrier, build my own network or use a combination of both?

Through extensive interaction with our clients, we’ve found the best approach to answer these questions is through an in-depth assessment to analyze the current state of your business and network – then discover what may be developing at your utility in the future.  With this information, gaps between the expectations of your telecom vision and the reality of what can be done and by when can be identified.

Through the process of working with our clients to achieve their telecom vision, we’ve developed the Smart Grid Telecommunications Maturity Model comparison to determine the current state, desired future state and the resulting gap analysis specific to each utility.  This information is then leveraged to develop a clear and actionable roadmap and business case to successfully design, fund and deploy advanced telecommunications networks.

The West Monroe Smart Grid Telecommunications Maturity Model takes you through the different stages of telecommunications infrastructure development:

Telecom Maturity Model

There are a number of important questions you must address prior to deploying a telecommunications roadmap, including:

  • How will technology choices be determined and be supported over time?
  • What standards-based equipment is available offering interoperability down the road?
  • How will technology impact the business operations and bottom line?
  • What type of security and at what depth will it be needed for different applications?

In addition, you’ll need to understand nuances of telecom development including:

  • Public carrier versus private networks
  • Leased lines, fiber and wireless networks
  • Which frequencies are better suited for the different types of communications required by your future smart grid elements

To understand the optimal solution for your utility, a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis should be completed specific to needs and resources.  Obviously the outcome of this analysis will differ by utility, however, in our experience, owning and maintaining a telecommunications network has allowed utilities to support reliable, controllable, secure and robust communications.  With the increased need for communication to achieve grid automation, these additional requirements necessitate consistent and reliable communications, especially during critical periods when other forms and commercial carriers may have failed.  Communication needs are key considerations to properly designing the solutions that fulfill your business case and support your network needs into the future.

Typically over six to eight weeks, West Monroe Partners can partner with you to create your Smart Grid Telecommunications Assessment Profile (TAP).  This includes a Technology Maturity Model-based gap Analysis, Roadmap, and Business Case to support your future smart grid needs.

West Monroe Partners will work with you to build your  Smart Grid TAP; business case summary and road map that are specific to your utility and operations.  This business case will include a summary of the operational benefits, increased reliability, operational, maintenance and training costs and overall business impact.  Your Smart Grid TAP combined with West Monroe Partners Telecommunications consulting partnership will guide your organization through the steps needed to fill in the gaps between your utility’s current state and desired future state.

For more information, please contact Dan Belmont.