UU 303: Grid Modernization Communications - Alternatives

Jan 25, 2022
C145, First Level
Utility University

To register for this course, click here!


This course provides a fresh unbiased perspective on communications technologies for critical applications for both existing automation programs and for future programs as defined in your Grid Modernization Master Plan.  Most utilities already have some form of backhaul communications for SCADA, AMI, and DA.  However, the emerging grid modernization programs are being expanded by adding new applications and greatly expanding existing programs. Communicating with customer-owned DER endpoints has become a growing challenge, the communication requirements for DA and AMI backhaul are also expanding and substations are becoming communication node locations.    

The latest communications breakthroughs listed below will be reviewed with case studies used to enhance the learning outcomes.  Comparisons will be made regarding latency, reliability, spectrum required, communication protocols, ease or challenge of obtaining end-point coverage, throughput potential, power requirements, typical pricing, and several other characteristics.  The architecture, vendor solutions, costs, and cost justification process, and value proposition will be covered while addressing the following: 

  • Private LTE Overview Including a Private LTE Case Study 
  • Private LTE as your Long-Term AMI Metering Solution:   
  • 802.16s WiMAX Overview:   
  • Licensed Broadband Spectrum Sources: 900 MHz, 700 MHz, 600 MHz, 220 MHz 
  • Review the Narrowband Communication Alternatives:  
  • AMI as a Backhaul for the Field Area Network Programs:   
  • Communications Beyond the Meter 
  • Fiber Optics as part of the WAN: 
  • Commercial cellular

Attendees will acquire:

  • Learn about private LTE and 802.16s and the use of licensed spectrum for your Field Area Network applications.  
  • Discover new opportunities to commercialize communication assets. 
  • Learn about new applications that are now requiring communications – C&I DER, home automation Behind-the-meter (BTM), private drone communications, expanded DA program, others.  
  • The ability to separate technology hype with great future promise versus technologies that are ready for a 2022 deployment.

Who should attend:  

This course is targeted for a variety of skill sets and experience levels including the following:  

  1. Senior Executives who are tasked with approving recommendations that involve millions of dollars of smart utility infrastructure can benefit by learning about the trade-offs of different communication technologies and key questions they should be asking their staff. 
  2. Utility strategy personnel looking for new opportunities to expand a utility revenue (either regulated or deregulated). 
  3. For experienced engineers that oversee SCADA, ADMS, DA, AMI, and new DER programs that are now tasked with replacing their legacy communications infrastructure with the next-generation communications. 
  4. For IT staff that may have focused more on internal applications that are now assigned to project teams that involve the WAN and FAN for the future selection or deployment of next-generation communications infrastructure. 
  5. For project managers that may not be experts with communication technologies but will be involved with procuring, deploying, or managing communication infrastructure projects. 
  6. For attendees that only have time for a four-hour class and want to receive a fresh update on the state of the industry for Field Communications for mission-critical programs like SCADA, DA, AMI, and DER backhaul.


  1. Gain a fresh understanding of the current state of Field Area Network Communications products and services.
  2. Learn about new Grid Modernization programs/applications and associated key communication requirements to consider in your future infrastructure plans. 
  3. Learn how to create a roadmap to address aging communications/automation infrastructure and expand and evolve from your legacy communications to new infrastructure


  1. A fresh industry perspective on utility communications infrastructure products and services. 
  2. New or newer field communications and Behind The Meter EV and PV applications that require communications with the utility. 
  3. Field communication trends with comparisons of AMI for the Field Area Network, Private LTE, commercial cellular 5G, 802.16 WiMAX, new protocols such as IEE 2030.5, others.
Rick Schmidt, Executive Consultant - Schmidt Utility Advisors LLC
Alice Moy-Gonzalez, SVP of Strategic Development - Anterix