Smart metering with two-way communications provides the critical foundation for establishing a smart grid. Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems employ a wide range of communications technologies, including radio frequency (RF) mesh, power line communications (PLC), and cellular. Utilities should look for solutions that support a variety of applications that fully integrate into future operational plans, but what type of communication solution is best?

Utilities own and manage a vast network: the electricity grid that delivers power to their customers. Through decades of investment and operations, distribution system operators (DSOs) or distribution companies (Discoms) have become experts at managing their electricity distribution networks that reach 100 percent of their customers. By using the electricity distribution network for communications, discoms can leverage their extensive experience and also reuse maintenance tools and resources, thereby avoiding the maintenance costs of a dedicated communication network. With every extension of the electricity distribution network, the communication network grows accordingly.

PLC uses the power lines that run between the Discom’s low-voltage distribution transformer and the customers’ meters. By embedding PLC into the distribution line, it enables solutions to obtain a level of grid intelligence that cannot be matched by any […]

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