Lte | 2022-11-03

Utilities Come Together at UBBA Summit for Guidance on Enabling Utility Broadband

Source: The Critical Communications Review | Gert Jan Wolf editor

The event was hosted by Southern California Edison and focused on the utility executive strategies facing the future of grid modernization.

The Utility Broadband Alliance (UBBA) held its second annual Summit & Plugfest in Costa Mesa, CA on October 11-13 with a sold-out crowd of utility and ecosystem partners. The event was hosted by Southern California Edison and focused on the utility executive strategies facing the future of grid modernization.

“I was extremely pleased with this year’s conference as it surpassed my expectations," stated Carlos Carazo, Director Grid Services, Information Technology at Southern California Edison. “We had an exceptional turnout from the utility community and their strategic partners. I was very grateful to see the support we received from utility executives who provided superb panels focused on how private broadband communications are foundational in enabling the electric grid of the future.”

Over three days, utility executives candidly discussed the strategic role of utility telecommunications infrastructure to enable the security and reliability initiatives of the future grid. Speakers included, but not limited to: Tami Barron, CEO of Southern Linc; Todd Inlander, CIO of Southern California Edison; Andy Dickson, CIO of ComEd; Sarah Salati, EVP and Chief Commercial Officer of New York Power Authority; and Jill Anderson, EVP of Operations at Southern California Edison.

“It was great to see the level of utility member and technology partner participation at an in- person event validating that the members are receiving value from this Alliance. UBBA’s mission is to champion the deployment of broadband technologies to address utilities existing and growing needs as a foundational enabler of the utility of the future vision.” said Ali Mohammed, UBBA Chairman and Head of Innovation at New York Power Authority.

Utility and technology ecosystem panelists shared lessons learned, strategies, business cases and operational models for driving and accelerating adoption of private broadband at all levels of a utility organization. UBBA’s technology provider members led innovative demonstrations and technology solutions discussions while listening to the feedback and needs of the utility attendees. Each day concluded with the unique UBBA LTE Plugfest, which showcased the members’ innovation and collaboration to demonstrate the capabilities of private LTE to scale and support critical utility applications such as SCADA, AMI, and MCPTT during normal operations as well as during emergency situations. Utility mutual aid was also tested to show that utilities can benefit for interconnected LMR and private LTE networks to improve mission critical communications and operational response.

The UBBA Board of Directors held the annual Membership Meeting and Chairman’s Awards, which honored the organizations and individuals that have demonstrated outstanding vision, foresight, and leadership in accelerating the mission and goals of UBBA in support of the utility industry.

“This year the Chairman’s Awards celebrated UBBA members and leaders for their immeasurable impacts including expanding membership, driving critical industry use cases, and improving overall utility operations. As UBBA continues its growth trajectory, I look forward to presenting more awards to recognize industry pioneers and utility leaders with gratitude to our members,” added Mohammed.

The utility award went to Southern Linc for being the first utility to see the vision and for paving the way for other utility private LTE networks. The technology member award went to Anterix for their pioneering leadership in utility private LTE.

“Seeing the wild success of utility and ecosystem embracement of UBBA this year is like seeing your child go off to college and thriving. We conceived of UBBA explicitly to create a collaborative and focused forum where utilities working with industry could seize big opportunities and address critical threats leveraging the power of Private Broadband communications. And that’s just what we witnessed at UBBA – leaders at all levels openly discussing their strategies, plans and learnings to adopt private broadband to address and enable utility business outcomes such as decarbonization, resilience and cybersecurity,” said Robert Schwartz, CEO of Anterix

The individual awards went to John Hughes, UBBA’s founding Vice-Chairman, and Peggy Rudock of Ameren, for their leadership and support in building and growing the alliance. And a special award for outstanding service was given to Bobbi Harris, the Executive Director of UBBA.

In addition to the Chairman’s Awards, the 2022 UBBA Plugfest Awards were presented at the close of the event. There were many UBBA members stepping up, but special honors were given to those who most embodied the spirit of collaboration that is UBBA’s Mission.

The 2022 Plugfest Award winners are:
• Leadership Excellence: Mat Eshpeter from Burns & McDonnell
• Constant Collaboration: Andy Hess from NetScout
• Peak Performance: Kevin Linehan from Ericsson
• Trailblazer: John Griebling from Itron
• In A Clutch Award: Dan Madey from Cisco
• Gracious Service Award: Rob Butts from L3Harris
• Laughter Therapy Award: Loren Zimmerman from Streamwide
• Mission Impossible Award: Mike Brozek from Anterix
• Above & Beyond Award: Ryan McAuliffe from NovaTech Automation
• Most Committed Award: Tim Spyers from Ameren
• Proven Passion: Mauricio Subieta from Nokia
• Unwavering Support: Mark Fecci from Motorola Solutions

Recordings of the keynote sessions and the Plugfest test presentations are available on the website. Plans are already underway for the next UBBA Summit & Plugfest in October of 2023, as host utility Xcel Energy welcomes everyone to Minneapolis. Members of the Alliance are given priority access to participate and preference over non-member companies, but UBBA membership is open to utilities of all types and sizes and to the global vendor ecosystem. Contact UBBA for information about membership.