Five New Findings on Preferred Utility Communication Networks for the Future Grid

Posted by on October 16, 2017

This summer, Silver Spring Networks commissioned Zpryme to conduct a research study to understand the emerging relationship between distribution grid infrastructure and communication networks. Our goal was to find trending utility preferences of communication networks that are able to accommodate changing business models. As a part of this study, Zpryme also conducted three detailed interviews to gather further insights into the survey findings, from leading utility executives. Below, we’ve provided a breakdown of survey respondents by organization type, range of customer accounts, and region.

Research Objectives, Methodology and Respondent Demographics

The outcome of the study indicated that as assets become increasingly dispersed and newer devices join the grid, it becomes extremely important to simplify and unify the utility system architecture at every layer, to support the growing variety of use cases. An open, scalable and extensible platform allows utilities to quickly and easily deploy multiple smart grid applications over a common infrastructure.

The research highlighted five, top new findings gathered from 350 utilities, surveyed globally:

  1. Utilities recognize that their communication networks must change to enable the next-generation distribution grid.
  2. Fiber optic and RF mesh lead the future of layered communication networks.
  3. Utilities will use RF mesh to address a variety of use cases for field area networks (FAN).
  4. No matter the technology or the need, reliability remains a top priority for communications networks.
  5. Cybersecurity is the most significant concern with legacy communication networks.

Keeping these trends in mind, forward-thinking utilities worldwide are already embracing trending grid modernization strategies around RF mesh, to not only replace their aging infrastructure, but also upgrade their traditional systems with advanced energy technologies. As utility executives still think about their communication networks, it is very important to not just address their current business needs but also consider the growing variety of use cases that the network can accommodate in the future.

For a complete look at the communication network trends that are shaping the next era of information networks, to better support the next-generation grid, download the whitepaper now.

Watch the recording of our recent webcast with CPS Energy to learn more about evolving communications for utility assets.