New Alcatel-Lucent grid product part of a larger grid communications trend

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By: SGN Staff

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Quick Take: At first glance, another product announcement, this one bringing competition to Ruggedcom, Cisco, SmartSync (Itron) and the others who sell grid routers. Note that the company emphasizes that this product is part of a larger strategy they call "Dynamic Communications for Smart Grid." There's more to come, obviously.

 

And note the emphasis on one complete, end-to-end network. Silver Spring Networks and Cisco have been telling a similar story for years. The Alcatel-Lucent entry brings competition, but also further validation. We are heading toward the day when utilities won't have to have the four or six or 10 separate networks they maintain now, but only one.

 

Finally, notice the mention of transportation and the public sector. As I am learning in my role as the Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, there is growing realization that different responsibility areas – power, water, transportation, emergency services – could and should be sharing infrastructure such as communications networks. - By Jesse Berst

 

Alcatel-Lucent says its new IP-based network communications technology will allow utilities to "make the smart grid smarter" throughout the grid infrastructure, from generating the power to delivering it to customers.

 

The new Internet routing technology "will give utilities the ability to deploy a single, secure, reliable communications network throughout the grid, supporting smarter power management to create dramatic operational and cost efficiencies."

 

The company says many utilities want to upgrade to new Internet Protocol/MultiProtocol Label Switching (IP/MPLS) solutions to upgrade their communications networks because of its greater speeds, bandwidth, reliability and service capabilities to meet the increasing data and two-way communications needs of more intelligent and sophisticated smart  grid power distribution systems. But previously, IP/MPLS has only been used in the transmission and sub-transmission segments of the grid. Alcatel-Lucent's two new additions to its 7705 Service Aggregation Routers (SARS) are designed to be used in the distribution and field area network, that part of the network that delivers power to utility residential and business customers.

 

The result is that the expanded portfolio provides the benefits of IP/MPLS throughout all of the communications network. And because its Service Aggregation Routers are hardened for deployment in harsh environments and meet strict cybersecurity requirements, they also are appropriate for use in transportation and several government sectors like public safety.

 

Lynn Hunt, global VP for Utility Solutions at Alcatel-Lucent said "Alcatel-Lucent's expanded Service Aggregation Portfolio, together with our Service Routers and Network Management portfolio, allow utilities to deploy a converged IP/MPLS based smart grid communications network. In doing so, we can help utilities save time and costs and allow them to take advantage of new revenue opportunities, for example, in offering telecom services to customers over their network."

 

Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.

Alcatel-Lucent enables utility companies to make the smart grid smarter

 

Application of fast, advanced IP-based network communications will make smart electricity distribution grids operationally and economically more efficient.

 

Paris, December 6, 2012 - Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) is to introduce new network technology that will enhance communications for utility companies to make power distribution across an entire grid, for the first time, ‘smart’ – from power generation through to customer delivery.

 

Alcatel-Lucent’s Internet routing technology will give utilities the ability to deploy a single, secure, reliable communications network throughout the electricity grid, supporting smarter power management to create dramatic operational and cost efficiencies.

 

Many utility companies are looking to upgrade to new IP/MPLS (Internet Protocol/Multiprotocol Label Switching) solutions to update their communications networks. IP/MPLS offers the superior speeds, bandwidth, reliability and service capabilities to meet the growing data and two-way communications requirements of the new, more intelligent and sophisticated smart grid power distribution systems.

 

Until now, IP/MPLS has only been deployed in the transmission and sub-transmission layers of the power grid, which handle the distribution of energy from power stations to the substations. However Alcatel-Lucent has added new products to its range of 7705 Service Aggregation Routers (SARs) specifically designed to be deployed in the Distribution and Field Area Network (FAN) – the part of the network that distributes power to an energy supplier’s residential or business customers. This extends the benefits of IP/MPLS, including service consistency and management, across a utility’s entire communications network, making it smart from end-to-end.

 

The technical characteristics of IP/MPLS mean that a single, reliable and secure network can remove the need for utilities to maintain multiple application-specific networks. IP/MPLS provides support for teleprotection, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) monitoring and control systems, network distribution automation, advanced smart grid metering, and substation automation, across the entire smart grid. This greatly simplifies network management, reduces costs, and provides increased network security, ensuring outages are efficiently managed and dramatically reduced.

 

Stuart Ravens, Principal Analyst, Energy & Utilities Technology with analyst firm Ovum said: “Alcatel-Lucent has long focused on IP/MPLS as the technology which can drive communications convergence in the utilities industry. This announcement puts Alcatel-Lucent in a strong position to exploit the transition of legacy networks to all-IP.”

 

Alcatel-Lucent’s Service Aggregation Routers have real advantages for the energy and transportation industries as well as many government sectors such as public safety. Smaller than some of the existing variants, they are hardened for deployment in the harshest, most remote environments and equipped with the stringent cyber security regulations required by these markets.

 

Lynn Hunt, Global Vice President, Utility Solutions, Alcatel-Lucent, said: “Alcatel-Lucent’s expanded Service Aggregation Router portfolio, together with our Service Routers and Network Management portfolio, allow utilities to deploy a converged IP/MPLS based smart grid communications network. In doing so, we can help utilities save time and costs and allow them to take advantage of new revenue opportunities, for example, in offering telecom services to customers over their network.”

 

About Alcatel-Lucent’s newly expanded portfolio

Alcatel-Lucent’s 7705 Service Aggregation Router portfolio has been extended to include the 7705 SAR-H and 7705-W variants.  The 7705 SAR-H has been designed to meet the strict utility substation IEEE 1613 and IEC 61850-3 specifications and incorporate a ‘stateful firewall’ together with many other built-in security features such as ‘Network Address Translation’ (NAT) that effectively address cyber security concerns without the need for a separate firewall. Together with its 7750 Service Router (SR) and network management capabilities provided by the 5620 Service Aware Manager (SAM) and Service Portal Express for Utilities, Alcatel-Lucent is able to provide energy companies and other industries with a single reliable, secure, end-to-end IP/MPLS communications network.

 

Alcatel-Lucent Dynamic Communication Solutions for the Smart Grid

Alcatel-Lucent is bringing communications technology to the Smart Grid allowing customers to make energy choices in real time, online, from anywhere empowering them to save energy and money every day. All while helping support their mission-critical operations with uncompromised reliability and security.  Alcatel-Lucent is running more than 80 mission critical networks and Smart Grid transformations worldwide.  And with our new Bell Labs innovation - advanced analytical techniques and tools, utilities can mine the wealth of information from smart meters, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and other data to provide the utility the ability to measure, monitor and control their electricity distribution network in real time with unprecedented levels of detail.  With operations in more than 130 countries and one of the most experienced global services organizations in the industry, Alcatel-Lucent is a local partner with global reach.  Learn more about our Dynamic Communication Solutions for the Smart Grid.