The UK’s Western Power Distribution is piloting private LTE for its smart grid

Western Power Distribution (WPD) is testing 4.9G/LTE and future 5G to support operation of its smart grid including SCADA, voice, video and data services

Nokia last week announced that it has provided a private 4.9G/LTE wireless network to Western Power Distribution (WPD) in the UK. The utility will use the private LTE network for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) testing, as well as other mission-critical systems such as voice services, according to Nokia.

WPD’s “LTE Connecting Futures” trial is testing a new LTE network to enable its smart grid. The 4.9G/LTE core, radio and user equipment were supplied by Nokia for WPD’s research at its Test and Development Center in Taunton, UK.

WPD distributes electricity to the Midlands, South West and Wales and says its communications network – which includes the use of licensed and unlicensed radio, microwave, and fiber networks – provides secure, resilient and reliable services to support the daily operations of WPD, which

Nokia worked with WPD to install and test the private network. Integrated and optimized to represent a ‘typical’ private LTE network in Band 87 (410-430Mhz), WPD tested operational characteristics, including assessment of throughput in interference and non-interference environments.

Phil Rigden, Telecoms Manager for WPD, said: “Through the challenges posed by the pandemic, we have worked closely with Nokia over the last two years to demonstrate the capability of its 4.9G/LTE private wireless solution to support the operation of our smart grid including SCADA, voice, video and data services. We have been able to document key learnings to share with the utility industry that confirm the suitability of 4.9G/LTE and 5G to provide the connectivity platform for tomorrow’s grid.”

Matthieu Bourguignon, Vice President Europe, Nokia Enterprise, said: “The industrial test environment we have established with WPD is providing a platform to trial various grid use cases on private wireless networks. These include Active Network Monitoring, power quality measurements, CCTV, distributed generation and automation of the smart grid. The range of applications and uses of private wireless will further support the industry to meet the regulatory challenges of providing clean, sustainable energy.”

Private wireless network slicing was also being tested for possible use of the same physical networks by tenant companies in the gas and electricity sectors.

Learn more by watching WPD’s video below:

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Jennifer Runyon is a Content Director at Clarion Energy, writing, editing and posting content on POWERGRID International and planning conference sessions for DISTRIBUTECH's live and virtual events. She as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH International. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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