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4G and WiMAX for the Smart Grid

1 February 2010 - Mind Commerce's new research 4G and WiMAX for the Smart Grid: Enabling Access, Applications and Affordability proposes WiMAX as a Last Mile or "Access" solution to provide a range of smart grid solutions or "Applications" which, when compared with other smart grid technologies such as Broadband over Power Line (BPL) come in at less than half the cost per household reached offering industry leading "Affordability" figures.

The research indicates that given the dilemma of US Department of energy awarding billions of dollars in smart grid grants while standards making bodies dither in providing the industry with standards, the power industry should look to the latest and greatest standards in telecommunications (Internet Protocol and 4G technologies such as WiMAX) to take advantage of federal dollars available for smart grid deployments while saving money on operating expenses. In addition, the deployment of a 4G network would enable the utility to offer wholesale and retail telecommunications services contributing new revenue streams for the utility while shortening the Return on Investment (ROI).

Any utility manager studying their smart grid options is no doubt concerned about the security of any smart grid network (foreign agents have been known to attempt to hack some parts of the US power grid), Quality of Service (QoS) issues, reliability of the technology and the potential for harmful interference to take down their smart grid network. This publication tackles those objections head-on in easy-to-understand language addressing both Last Mile and Middle Mile portions of a 4G smart grid network.

Most importantly, the paper analyses a BPL deployment in Boulder, Colorado where the power utility deployed a BPL-based smart grid at a cost of $1,000 per household reached. The research finds that a more powerful, mobile, 4G, standards-based network could have been deployed at a cost of $440 per household reached. The financial analysis offers a worksheet for power utilities to determine return on investment.