Mobile Workforce Group
This special interest group covers mobile technologies and approaches that are helping utilities do business today.
New Mobile Applications Drive Network Revamps
- May 8, 2023 12:22 pm GMT
A wave of fresh mobile solutions is forcing energy companies to retool their enterprise networks. As a result, new networking options are emerging, ones that were built to support immersive, high bandwidth applications. However, energy companies have more networking choices, so selecting the right option for their application becomes more challenging.
At one time, enterprise connectivity was simple because utilities had few choices. These companies relied on simple, point-to-point connections to move information from place to place.
Recently, new applications were created that do not mesh well with that design.
Internet or Things sensors have become quite popular. They are placed in equipment and provide energy companies with information, such as device heat, temperature, and wear and tear.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) replace paper and laptop input with immersive solutions. Interactive manuals walk technicians through tasks, such as servicing a transformer in real time.
Remote video monitoring of power lines and distribution systems is becoming more common as video equipment pricing has dropped.
New Networking Options Arise
These new applications do not easily sync with traditional network design. They require more bandwidth and more flexible designs than legacy systems. Therefore, carriers created new options for energy companies, starting at the lower network layers and working their way up the protocol stack.
For instance, 5G is the next phase in cellular networking. Unlike previous cellular services, this one was designed for high speed, dispersed processing.
Wi-Fi has been a popular option for mobile applications because it does not require that wiring be laid in remote locations. The newest version, Wi-Fi 6, offers high speed and improved resiliency.
Edge computing provides processing power between an end point and a server. This option is becoming popular because it reduces network traffic, speeds up processing, and works well with IoT devices.
Network-as-Code is an emerging feature that piggybacks on the many benefits that cloud computing offers, like simpler deployment and maintenance. In this case, service providers ease network integration work by creating high level interfaces. Consequently, utilities deploy, provision, and manage new network services more easily.
The new options provide energy companies with desired flexibility but also present them with new challenges. They need to spend time understanding the pluses and minuses of these new options, so they pick the ones that best mesh with their needs. They also must take a long term view of the network evolution and not lock themselves into a service that they will quickly outgrow.
New applications arose that did not mesh with legacy networks. Telecommunications service providers responded with new services. Energy companies have more networking options available but need to be careful and pick the one that best works with their use case.
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