Many of the discussions I had with people stopping by related to addressing the pent-up demand identified during their network master planning process. Most of this involved transport and distribution network upgrades, with primary driving factors being:
- Aging communications infrastructure
- Regulatory requirements
- Increased bandwidth requirements
- Decreasing carrier support for traditional telephony services
Utilities also expect other benefits from network expansion, including resolving bandwidth issues and the ability to support future power and security applications. Integrating fiber transmission and distribution facilities with microwave will increase system reliability. This takes into account that reaching remote facilities with fiber routes alone would be cost prohibitive.
It is clear the convergence of cyber and physical has begun. What does this integration mean? It identifies the requirements to coordinate new and legacy security sensors, which will help address physical facility security embedded with the communications transport and distribution infrastructure. Historically, these facilities have been operated by multiple organizations within each utility. But to meet increased regulatory and system reliability requirements, some companies are merging these services into telecommunications departments.
What’s ahead for day two?
The second day promises even more discussions of network and system topics. Many of these will be addressed by a presenters scheduled to talk about regulatory issues, transport facility options, upper 700MHz A Block to provide broadband mobility, along with fixed telecom options. Homeland Security will share an update on programs, strategic goals and changes in the emergency communications environment. Then we’ll wrap up the day with an extended session on NERC/CIP Version 5 regulatory requirements.