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UTC topics spark discussion

03272015-utc6-wrapFrom 700MHz A Block to TDM networks and UAVs, options and opportunities were all part of UTC’s Region 6 presentations. In my previous post, I shared general thoughts from attendees, along with UTC’s Brett Kilbourne and his view on Pacific DataVision and spectrum information.

For this post, I’ll be summarizing the high points of what other presenters had to say about utility telecommunications and its future.

John McClain, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Emergency Communications
John offered an overview of the efforts being implemented by DHS to expand the 2014 Emergency Communications Plan, which encourages regional coordination of all 16 critical infrastructure organizations. The areas of expanded communications beyond voice and traditional data includes the use of multimedia and broadband data to rapidly communicate potential and active threats. It does this by using technology to improve pre- and post-response efforts. This requires regional coordination and training to insure technology tools are used effectively.

John Vislosky, Access Spectrum Senior Vice President

John updated us on Access’ offering to utilities related to the upper 700MHz A Block spectrum sale, using as an example the sale of spectrum to Northwest Energy that included a collaborative agreement with Great River Energy. He followed up with the details related to the Salt River Energy proof of concept test and its results. John believes both Northwest Energy and Salt River Energy are receptive to discussing the procurement and testing process. He also covered the ease of renewing licenses and the flexibility of utilities holding licenses compared to being a secondary user with other license holders.

Another item in John’s presentation involved the cost-effectiveness of 700MHz A Block Northwestern Energy found in comparison to other solutions, and the responsiveness of the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to support the sale to Northwestern Energy. Based on the sale, manufacturer’s interest in providing equipment has significantly increased. He also included notes on future utility use of the 700Mz A Block to support unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

Bill Atkinson, Senior M/W Technical Consultant; Marios Parperis, Sales Engineer
This presentation provided an overview of packet microwave radio for building cost-effective multipurpose networks. Bill discussed the flexibility in using multiple applications such as traditional legacy systems and improved modulation options. He also outlined multiple failure scenarios during single and multiple link failures. In his portion of the presentation, Marios covered the MPLS management system and its use in configuring new connections and managing outages.

Dave Thomas, RAD Business Development Director
Dave’s aim was to help utilities as they transition from traditional TDM networks to IP-based networks, as he provided an overview of the differences between MPLS and Carrier Ethernet. He offered up his perspective on the fundamentals of Carrier Ethernet and MPLS, which also includes MPLS-TP. Some of the requirements utilities have to address when implementing IP solutions include latency, resiliency, security, redundancy and network.

Marie Hawkins, UTC Frequency Coordination Services Manager

Marie walked attendees though a detailed tutorial of the UTC coordination/licensing process. She also covered tips and reminders on how users can get the most out of the SpectrumWatch application.

Paul Lekan, UTC Marketing & Communications Director
Paul contributed an overview of a UTC consultant service offering that can help utilities develop a business case for deploying solutions.

UTC6-drawingMichael Meason, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative Technical Services Manager; Mike Prescher, Black & Veatch
The day wrapped up with a CIP Version 5 review joint presentation and discussion with Michael and Mike. They shared real world examples of threats and attacks they have encountered, and presented a model they named the Circle of Goodness (COG), which is divided into three layers:

  • Program Development
    Main element of success is organizational stakeholder development with clear objectives. It must be tied to a master plan, with priorities clearly identified, to get corporate sponsorship.
  • Operational and Security Objectives
    These need substantial documentation, so they must be developed at the same time, then integrated, as they are required to coexist. Michael pointed out that tools Western Farmers Electric use to analyze events is a data recorders that not only helps with operations, but compliance as well.
  • Compliance
    This details how to achieve security and not on compliance; compliance follows achieving security. Michael and Mike gave a step-by-step review of the rules contained in CIP Version 5.

That’s the quick summary from UTC Region 6.

About the author

Dan is our account executive in the Critical Infrastructure market and has more than 35 years of providing customer-driven technology and energy solutions to critical infrastructure operators in the United States and Canada. He focuses on critical intelligent infrastructure, from smart grids to communications connections, and how they are used as consumers become energy portfolio managers.