26 Mar 2020

Infrastructure and Communications Considerations

As the telecom network continues its fast and furious growth in support of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), the smart grid provides another exciting area of growth for communications and network telecom equipment.  Within the smart grid, utilities need a similar reliable, efficient and effective communications network.  This reliability coupled with a secure communication path within and between substations is what the power utilities are looking for in order to adopt and deploy smart grid solutions for tomorrow's power grid.

Current Implications & Future Technology Demands

The current power grid continues to evolve to meet and adapt to increasing technology and communication demands.  Smart grid infrastructure and communications equipment often must meet the requirements laid out in IEC 61850 and IEEE 1613 before being deployed in the field.  IEC 61850 and IEEE 1613 are international standards for communications equipment that define the environmental conditions found within electric power substations and facilities. 

Industrial hardened Ethernet switches and routers are just two of the solutions for scalable bandwidth in the power grid.  Office grade networking equipment is not likely to provide the necessary reliability in this harsh environment that exposes equipment to temperature extremes, humidity, moisture, dirt and other airborne contaminants.  In addition to these environmental conditions, the equipment will also need to be capable of withstanding extreme electromagnetic interference.  Compliance to these requirements along with other international EMC requirements will give the utility providers the confidence they need to deploy your hardened telco products in the grid.  Along with these "wired" communications solutions, wireless 3G, 4G/LTE (and in the rapidly approaching future 5G solutions) are finding their way into the grid and will need to meet the same stringent environmental and EMC requirements.

Global Regulatory Standards

In many cases the same hardened telecom equipment that is being evaluated to telecom service providers' requirements for the telco network can also be evaluated concurrently to IEC 61850-3 and IEEE 1613 for deploy in the smart grid.  Intertek has been an industry leader in the testing of telecom equipment for decades and continues to move towards the future with these ever-evolving networks.  Whether you are testing to ETSI requirements for the European market, GR-63, GR-1089 or GR-3108 for the US telecom market or EMC requirements for markets around the globe, Intertek's Connected World team can help you navigate these requirements and assist in bundling them into an efficient test plan.

The Future of Smart Grids

The U.S. and global smart grid markets are expected to continue growing momentum.  In addition to the growth, there are added benefits to transitioning to a smart enabled grid. The amount of greenhouse gas emissions could lesson due to the smart appliances, power meters and transmission distribution. Smart Grids are aligned with the needs and demands of our time and they are predicted to have significant lasting effects. 


Keith Kuhn,
Sales Director


Keith Kuhn is a Sales Director in Intertek connectivity lab.  Over his 24 years tenure with Intertek, he has worked in both sales and operations with a focus on network communications equipment testing including NEBS, regulatory EMC & safety, environmental, performance and most recently the testing of communications equipment for deployment in power grids. Keith works with and supports a large team of sales specialists focused on testing communications equipment that connects the world to each network.

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