This past October, SSS met with dozens of rural co-ops at the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation’s Engineering and Operations Workshop. The conversation was unanimous — rural utilities urgently need SCADA upgrades, network security, and affordable radio solutions. To meet the demand, rural co-ops are looking to GE MDS (GE MCR) radios with built-in routing and firewalls to protect electrical distribution systems and reduce outages, but at a fraction of the cost of traditional IT network firewall devices and software.
A big draw for co-ops is the GE MDS™ Orbit MCR-900 MHz unlicensed spread spectrum radio with cellular functionality that provides for a fail-safe back-up in the event of failure. It offers 256 AES Wireless Encryption, the highest of any GE MDS product, in addition to being an affordable option for co-ops who many times are not able to run fiber, or pay the hefty tab for licensed radios.
The radio’s dual function router is uniquely designed to provide back-up cellular connection in the event the ethernet connection goes down. The cellular feature is a low-cost fail safe, back-up built-into the GE MCR which supports different wireless technologies including global 3G (AT&T), 4G LTE, and Wi-Fi.
A full-service GE partner and installer of its GE MDS radios, SSS understands the unique needs of rural co-ops, the latest technology on the market, and where co-ops need it the most. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits of the Orbit MCR 900 co-ops need right now.
Cost Effective Solution: A small, modular device, the GE MDS Orbit MCR-900 is a radio coupled with a router and firewall in one piece of gear. Instead of spending thousands for traditional firewalls found in data centers that are not suitable for industrial environments, rural co-ops can deploy the GE MCR-900 solution at a decreased cost. The Orbit is well-suited for SCADA networks, with advanced firewall protection and scalable data rates from 125 Kpbs to 1.25 Mbps.
Self-Healing Network: Orbit radio networks are capable of self-healing using their store and forward setting. It also uses dynamic routing protocols which automatically learn paths through the network in case an existing path fails.
High-Level Security: The MCR-900’s 256-bit encryption makes it the most hack-proof MDS product. Advanced firewalls protect system and network assets against intrusion. The firewall functionality and multiple interfaces can be used to establish Demilitarized Zones (DMZs) to isolate internal networks from external networks, and ensure boundary protection while allowing trusted users access to system data.
Renewable Energy Integration: For co-ops integrating wind or solar power, the Orbit is ideal to transport supervisory data on wind turbines or solar arrays that are remotely positioned far from wired infrastructure. The Orbit transmits the acquired telemetry data to the core network allowing SCADA systems to utilize the remotely acquired data and present it to operators for their situational awareness and decision making.
Rural co-ops can count on SSS to deliver expert solutions. The first thing we’ll do is determine the size of your network, how many end points you have, how much data you want to gather from those end points and your required reliability based on your mission requirements. With this information, SSS Engineers will design a secure custom network, crafted to meet your system’s needs.