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Feature | August 2017

Dedicated spectrum key for smart grid success

<span style="font-weight: bold;">Amit Vaidya, Director-Strategic Customer Team, Sensus India<br /> <br /> India is a price conscious market. How difficult is it to bring in products to such a market?</span><br /> While we always say that the Indian market is price sensitive, at the same time it is also a big volume market. The Indian Prime Minister┬Žs initiative v Make In India v is helping multinational corporations (MNCs) like us to plan for local manufacturing and bring the cost of products down. Moreover, our advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technology v FlexNet - is at the lowest total cost of ownership price as compared to other communication networks. As the cellular networks are constantly updating themselves from 2G to now 4G, they will need to upgrade equipment and software. In case of Mesh networks, they have to use far more 'street furniture' in order to get the coverage needed to reach all meters which hugely increases the cost. Thus, the government and utility companies need to factor in these hidden costs while selecting the right communications network for their utility and smart city initiatives. <p></p> <p> <span style="font-weight: bold;">The market hasn't picked up the way it was anticipated. What can change the market for the better? </span><br /> Nevertheless, there have been a lot of progressive steps around grid infrastructure and adoption of smart meters. Among all reasons, power theft continues to be among the major roadblocks towards social development in India. The utilities need to adopt smart metering and smart communication infrastructure for monitoring energy needs and consumption on a real-time basis. Besides there is a dire need for the Ministry of Power to not only focus on installing smart meters, but also to look at it from a communications infrastructure and control centre applications perspective. And the ministry┬Žs National Smart Grid Mission is already working towards stabilising the current power distribution as well as improving power reliability and quality supply among others on an ongoing basis. </p> <p> Keeping these factors in mind, we are optimistic that there is a healthy market that will eventually revolutionise the T&amp;D sector overall.</p> <p> <span style="font-weight: bold;">How challenging is it to keep up with fast-changing technologies?</span><brt><br /> Technological advancement is happening at a breathtaking pace in India. IoT (Internet of Things) is the next wave in technological revolution and is witnessing a surge in devices and technologies being released. With so many devices being released under the IoT umbrella, it is critical for the government and utility companies to choose a communications technology which is fit for the purpose and designed specifically for utilities, smart meter networks and end-to-end architecture. It needs utility-grade, reliable and secure technology to ensure a stable network for conveying critical data. </brt></p> <p> <span style="font-weight: bold;">What are your expectations for the next three years from the industry?</span><br /> Firstly, the industry should not only focus on smart meter deployment, but also on associated infrastructure. This will help utilities access data in a more secure and reliable way and take effective measures. </p> <p>Secondly, utilities need a licensed and dedicated spectrum for mission critical IoT. Three crucial goals need to be met in order for a successful smart grid project to be achieved: reliability, security and efficiency. These can only be guaranteed with a dedicated communications platform operating on a licensed radio spectrum. Licensed spectrum needs advanced planning and permission from the regulator to be used for utility AMI projects, and this planning provides a low barrier-to-entry for new and innovative IoT technologies to enter the market.</p>
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