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Spectrum needs for Smart Grids – join the debate!

To launch the debate on "Spectrum for wireless innovation in Europe", Peter Moray (Director, EUTC) has provided us with his recommendations on the spectrum needs for smart grids.

--- Posted by Daniel Kitscha (DG INFSO, Radio Spectrum Policy, Digital Agenda Assembly - Coordinator Workshop 17) on behalf of the author: Peter Moray (Director, EUTC).

To launch the debate on "Spectrum for wireless innovation in Europe" (Digital Agenda Assembly Workshop 17 - #daa11spectrum) Peter Moray (Director, EUTC) has provided us with his recommendations on the spectrum needs for smart grids. Please join the discussion and provide your input by commenting on this blog post until June 10!


 1. The world faces major challenges in energy sector – CO2 reduction, energy security and affordability. The European Union has committed themselves to the 20-20-20 targets:

  • 20% reduction in EU Greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990;
  • Increase in renewable energy to 20% of all energy consumed; and
  • 20% increase in energy efficiency.

2. The Western world is an interconnected society, highly dependent on a wide range of integrated services, the most critical elements being energy and water. 21st Century living requires reliable utility services to sustain a lifestyle not viable if these services are disrupted.


3. Utility services are under not only competitive and commercial pressures to improve efficiency and reduce costs, but political and societal imperatives to reduce their environmental impact, increase sustainability and ensure affordability. Recently, nations have become concerned at the threat posed by cyber-terrorists disrupting utility services and sabotaging the economy.

4. In response, utility companies have stimulated innovation and business practices which have reduced manpower, increased automation and empowered the mobile workforce, yielding efficiencies not achievable previously. Now, the passive networks of the past are being transformed into active, intelligent networks of the future. This will require a step change in the telecommunications required to support network operations in terms of:

  • ubiquity of coverage;
  • speed of response;
  • resilience of communication infrastructure;
  • volumes of data; and
  • cost

5. Although much of this increased telecoms capacity will be provided by commercial telecoms services and fixed networks, increased provision through private radio networks will be essential:

  • Utility infrastructure is often located in sparsely populated areas of little attraction to commercial operators.
  • Many renewable energy sources are in remote locations.
  • Although most utility companies have extensive copper and fibre networks, many do not and cannot implement them in the timescale mandated by Energy Policies.
  • Radio networks can be deployed quickly to provide intelligence for energy networks: other technologies will take too long to achieve the necessary connectivity.
  • As commercial telecom networks move towards IP, some utility applications requiring low and predictable latency associated with guaranteed symmetrical performance cannot be serviced by commercial carriers.
  • Private networks can be designed to provide redundant routing and tested for independence from mains power supplies to support restoration of power supplies.
  • Private networks can more easily be protected from cyber-terrorism than services shared with networks accessible to the public.

 6. Much work remains to be done, but preliminary studies point to these recommendations:


(1)               2x2MHz below 1 GHz, possibly in 400-470 MHz for critical narrowband communications.

(2)               2x5MHz above 1 GHz possibly in the region of 1.5 GHz for higher data-rates for wide-area coverage configured for up-load centric data from dispersed utility assets.

(3)               Deregulated or lightly regulated spectrum below 1 GHz for Smart Meters.

Editor Connect's picture
Published in DSM blog


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I am a senior regulatory analyst for the Lower Colorado River Authority in Austin, Texas.  I currently chair UTC’s Public Policy Division.  I fully support EUTC’s position in this important matter.
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The geographical incapabilities of Americans are legendary. Wrong continent, my colleague. Texas is no part of the European Union and its citizens are not a constituency of the EU. So what you support or despise is irrelevant for us. Go analyse yourself.
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I fully support the recommendations on Spectrum for Smart Grids.   Suitable spectrum will be an essential part in providing the lowest cost, resilient, communications solution for Smart Grid in Ireland.   Additional RF systems will be required, in particular for less densely populated and rural areas to provide cost-effective communications for Smart Grid applications. The provision of suitable spectrum is essential to enable this to happen.   Daragh Moore, Telecom Services planning, ESB Networks
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Silver Spring Networks, as a provider of communications technologies to support Smart Metering and Smart grid applications, strongly agrees with the proposals made by the EUTC and applaud its efforts to draw together the spectrum requirements of utilities across Europe. Silver Spring Networks would like to highlight the challenges facing utilities cross Europe in helping countries to meet their commitments to greenhouse gas reduction, and the more specific obligations to roll out Smart Grid and Smart Metering capabilities across their networks set out in EC mandates M490 and M441, respectively. The energy sector is about to enter a period of profound change: electricity distribution networks will need to be managed in a way that has been hitherto unknown. The top-down flow of energy from centralised power stations will be disrupted by new, intermittent renewable energy sources located both in local communities and in individual consumers’ homes. Furthermore, ‘electrification’ of many sectors, notably transport, will see new demands placed on infrastructure that in some countries is already close to capacity exhaustion. Demand side techniques such as demand response and variable pricing will help to relieve these pressures, as will imaginative schemes for the management of new, heavy load applications such as domestic electric vehicle charging. Mitigation measures will also be required to maintain the reliability and quality of the electrical supply (eg power factor) particularly as more intermittent, renewable energy is groomed into the distribution networks. Opportunities exist to reduce energy consumption by regulating the voltage seen by consumers at the end of powers feeders. In order to manage these challenges, however, the Smart Grid will require reliable, ubiquitous, cost effective, high throughput communications devices, along with distributed intelligence to control communications between nodes, primarily, on low and medium voltage infrastructure. In Europe, few cost-effective communications technologies are available to support these vital  applications, which although of vital economic importance, do not need to be engineered to the same standards as transmission and HV infrastructure. In the US and Australia, where licence-exempt/lightly licensed spectrum is available, sub-GHz wireless mesh technology is available. The technology is robust enough to provide sufficiently reliable services, even when sharing with other technologies. Sharing allows cost-effective access to spectrum and maximises the efficiency with which spectrum is utilised. Silver Spring Networks, therefore, particularly strongly endorses the EUTC’s call for sub-GHz spectrum to support Smart Metering and Smart Grid. Simon Dunkley, Silver Spring Networks (UK) Ltd
Daniel Kitscha's picture
The results of the Digital Agenda Assembly Workshop on “Spectrum for wireless innovation in Europe” (Workshop 17 – #daa11spectrum) are now online:   You can also find all presentations on the workshop website: