Lte | 2021-01-13

Xcel Energy to Launch Initial Deployment of 900 MHz Wireless Private Broadband

Source: The Critical Communications Review | Gert Jan Wolf editor

Xcel Energy will use a new wireless telecommunications tool that can help the company respond more quickly to local electric outages and support advanced grid ‘smart meters’ that will provide more information to customers about their energy use.

The 900 MHz private wireless broadband network will be installed at two existing Xcel Energy sites in Minneapolis. In addition to helping launch advanced grid efforts, the network will allow Xcel Energy to provide cyber protection to critical infrastructure and could eventually be expanded to support automated technology throughout metro and remote rural locations. The network will be developed by Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI) using Anterix’s (NASDAQ: ATEX) 900 MHz spectrum.

“Xcel Energy is supporting our customers by introducing new technology that will enable several improvements. The addition of tools in the future will give our customers greater insight into their energy use, help us respond more quickly to local power outages, and provide enhanced communication technology to support our field operations,” said Tim Peterson, Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President, Xcel Energy. “This new telecommunications technology will provide a basis for new solutions, which can improve grid operations, enhance system security, and ultimately deliver a better experience for our customers.”

The availability of wireless broadband spectrum in the 900 MHz band resulting from the FCC’s recent actions now allows critical infrastructure providers, such as Xcel Energy, to deploy private networks that enable secure and resilient electric grids. Motorola Solutions’ LXN 7900 fixed LTE 900 MHz infrastructure, in combination with its Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS)-based Nitro™ network, will enable the seamless exchange of voice and data across private LTE broadband and existing LMR networks. A future roll-out of a broader private LTE deployment could be accelerated by leveraging Xcel Energy’s existing investments in LMR site locations and infrastructure to support existing and new grid-of-the-future applications.

“We look forward to working with Xcel Energy as they catalogue the benefits of private broadband for voice, data and IoT communications,” said Scott Schoepel, Vice President, Global Enterprise, Motorola Solutions. “As utility operations become increasingly complex and the electrical grid ever more automated, private broadband will support the necessary data speeds, capacity and security, as well as the technology and analytics, needed to support modern and resilient utility infrastructure.”

“At Anterix, our goal is to deliver transformative broadband that enables the modernization of critical infrastructure for the utility sector. We are excited to work with Xcel Energy as they continue their long-standing commitment to leverage advanced technology to enable better service to their customers,” said Rob Schwartz, President & CEO of Anterix. “In partnership with Motorola Solutions, we plan to demonstrate the efficiency, resiliency and security provided by private LTE and validate how private LTE can not only support modernization of the grid and operations for Xcel Energy customers in Minneapolis, but also pioneer the future of broadband communications for the entire utility industry.”