Utilities all over the world are undergoing significant transition in their grids—from transmission to consumption. Regulatory mandates are advancing initiatives around smart metering, grid reliability, and integration of solar and wind farms into the distribution grid. This in turn, imposes a unique set of challenges for utilities to build a bidirectional communications field area network (FAN) that enables these diverse applications and also scales across millions of endpoints.
Cisco’s Connected Grid FAN solution has been specifically developed to meet these challenges, using design principles from industry-leading Cisco GridBlocks architecture. Under the GridBlocks architecture, a typical communications network for the distribution grid is a two-tier architecture with Neighborhood Area Network (NAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN).
The NAN provides network connectivity to end points such as smart meters and DA devices. These endpoints form a mesh network based on radio frequency (RF) or power-line communications (PLC) technologies. The mesh network is aggregated at an intelligent device such as a field area router (FAR) mounted on pole-tops or in secondary substations. The WAN tier provides network connectivity from the FAR to the utility’s control center over either a public 2G/3G network, or over a utility-owned (private) WiMAX or Ethernet fiber network.
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