Neoenergia studies point to the potential for expansion of private communication in smart grids with efficient and sustainable growth


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Neoenergia has just completed a pilot project for a private 4G/LTE communication network that shows the possibility of increasing the coverage in the 410 MHz frequency by up to four times. Another advantage is the 40% reduction in infrastructure investment when compared to the same type of network by 3.5MHz. This performance makes the company a pioneer in the use of this frequency range in Brazil.

In addition to innovation and quality of delivery to customers, this spectrum offers a good relationship between coverage and capacity. The practical tests also confirmed the possibility of aggregating multi-service traffic, which allows reconciling narrowband and broadband services within the same channel in 410-415 MHz and 420-425 MHz. In this way, the pilot project brings a promising scenario for the expansion of the network of intelligent systems, also known as smart grids, which is in operation in the five distributors of Neoenergia.

The city of Atibaia, in São Paulo, already has the entire distribution network connected to intelligent systems with more than 78 thousand meters installed. The municipality served to carry out the tests submitted to the proof of concept (PoC), which attest to the theoretical and practical results proposed by the project. The study included the installation of a base station and a Core 4G/LTE.

The results proved the technical feasibility of expanding private communication through 4G/LTE at 410 MHz, with an efficiency of 22% in the investment (CAPEX) of the cellular remote when compared to the conventional 3G/4G cellular remote, and 16% of cost efficiency (OPEX) given the optimized data communication flow. In addition to seeking efficient solutions, Neoenergia also worked with the National Telecommunications Agency (ANATEL), and with industry associations to boost the adoption of this frequency band for the Private Limited Service (SLP).

4G/LTE is a mobile data transmission technology that was created based on GSM and WCDMA (data transmission standards adopted by mobile operators). Internet of Things (IoT) technologies were implemented in this project to make this communication even more efficient through optimized data management. With lower connection costs, IoT devices open up opportunities for wide application in smart grids.

"The project developed in Atibaia will benefit all Neoenergia companies by enabling an efficient expansion of the private communication network. It is important that the telecommunications solutions that will support the continued digitalization of networks are not only technically, but financially viable, taking into account the regulatory landscape in which energy distributors are inserted," says Ricardo Leite, Superintendent of Smart Grids at Neoenergia.

The communication modules developed for automation and smart metering during the project support IoT, LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies, in the frequency bands intended for Private Limited Service (SLP) at 410 MHz (B87), 450 MHz (B31) and 700 MHz (B28), and public Personal Mobile Service (SMP) bands at 700 MHz (B28) and 1800 MHz (B3). The support for public and private frequencies allows agile deployment in all distributors of the Neoenergia group, whether there is a private 4G network or not.

The communication module developed for the smart meters brought not only technical innovation but also financial efficiency of 10% in the resources allocated to the solution (CAPEX) when compared to theprevious technology and 16% in relation to the optimization of operating costs (OPEX)." The PoC enabled the development of the hybrid IoT communication module for smart metering, bringing innovation to the industry, which is lacking in scalable and interoperable solutions. In addition, it enabled an ecosystem of suppliers and equipment, reinforcing the company's commitment to the modernization of the Brazilian electricity sector," said Ricardo Leite.

The process of releasing the 410 MHz band for the expansion of the private network is in the modeling and approval phase by the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel). The expectation is that the band will be included in the Radio Frequency Attribution, Distribution and Destination Plan (PDFF), still in the first half of this year.    

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