Alcatel Lucent aims to smarten up the grid

Alcatel Lucent is claiming that utility companies can smarten up their grids by using its network technology in infrastructure that lies closer to residential and business premises.

The vendor notes that many utility companies have been upgrading their systems to include IP/MPLS technology, which promises superior speeds, bandwidth, reliability and service capabilities than older systems.

Until now, though, IP/MPLS has been confined to the transmission and sub-transmission layers of the power grid, which handle the distribution of energy from power stations to substations.

Alcatel Lucent is claiming that utility companies can smarten up their grids by using its network technology in infrastructure that lies closer to residential and business premises.

The vendor notes that many utility companies have been upgrading their systems to include IP/MPLS technology, which promises superior speeds, bandwidth, reliability and service capabilities than older systems.

Until now, though, IP/MPLS has been confined to the transmission and sub-transmission layers of the power grid, which handle the distribution of energy from power stations to substations.

If IP/MPLS were deployed in the so-called distribution and field area network (FAN) – which distributes power to residential and business customers – utility companies could benefit from further operational and cost efficiencies by making the grid “smart from end to end”, says Alcatel Lucent (Paris, France).

The company says it has recently added new products to its range that are specifically designed to be employed in the FAN, extending the advantages of IP/MPLS across the whole network.

Lynn Hunt, the global vice president of utility solutions for Alcatel Lucent, said the company can now “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.”

Alcatel Lucent adds that its products are ideal for the energy and transportation industries because they have been fashioned for deployment in the harshest, most remote environments and equipped with the stringent cyber security regulations required by these markets.

“Alcatel Lucent has long focused on IP/MPLS as the technology which can drive communications convergence in the utilities industry,” said Stuart Ravens, a principal analyst at market-research firm Ovum. “This announcement puts Alcatel Lucent in a strong position to exploit the transition of legacy networks to all-IP.”