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How the Biggest Utilities are using GE MDS Next-Gen Radios (2016)

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The utility industry is abuzz about GE MDS — their next generation communication product line that optimize data transmission and security. Here’s how the products are helping some of the biggest utilities right now.

Southern Company Southern Company

Customers: 4 million across its 4 utilities — Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Mississippi Power and Gulf Power

Challenge: Increased adaptability, superior security, speed and range, while reducing network complexity

Solution: Network upgrade using the MDS Orbit Platform

In 2016, SouthernCo. announced its partnership with GE to deploy MDS Orbit’s advanced networking capabilities. It will enable each utility to remain highly flexible, helping optimize performance. At the same time, the Orbit complies with NERC-CIP2 and other cyber security regulatory guidelines. Multiple interfaces simultaneously connect both transmission and distribution assets, in addition to the utilities’ maintenance vehicles and personnel. SouthernCo. will also partner with SouthernLINC Wireless to deploy the Orbit routers in conjunction with MDS PulseNET- GE’s network management software. PulseNET monitoring software will allow SouthernLINC to auto-provision its Orbit routers, with no human intervention, on its LTE network — which will save valuable time and resources.

Ameren Corporation Ameren Corporation using GE MDS Radios

Customers: Over 3 million electric & gas customers across 64,000 square miles in Illinois and Missouri

Challenge: To extend IP protocol and higher bandwidth into Field Area Networks for SCADA, Distribution Automation, video, and a variety of other emerging use cases

Solution: GE MDS WiMAX and Encrypted MAS

Though the WiMax is being phased-out for commercial use, it has been a powerful solution for utilities. Ameren deployed WiMax to improve data transmission from its substations in the rural area to their regional headquarters, aggregating data from all these remote areas. Due to lower megabit radios at the substation, the WiMax provided a bigger pipe to send data.  The WiMax operates in the 3.65 GHz range so it has a really high throughput capability. It has a throughput of 5 – 7 megabits per second (Mbps) for the

distribution automation backhaul situation. As an alternative to the WiMax, utilities are looking to GE’s MDS Intrepid to reduce backhaul bottlenecks.  The Intrepid is a point-to-multipoint alternative with a high bandwidth (25 Mbps to 200 Mbps), reduced interference, Quality of Service (QoS), and simple deployment options. Also, since the licensing scenario is becoming difficult with the WiMax, the unlicensed Intrepid offers an excellent option.

CenterPoint Energy

Smart Meter InstallCustomers: 2.4 million customers in Houston, Texas

Challenge: Implement Advanced Metering System (AMS)

Solution: GE MDS Mercury 3650 radios

CenterPoint’s smart meter roll-out is considered the most successful in the industry. Starting in 2009, the utility has installed more than 2.3 million Itron smart meters , to monitor and manage electricity use in real time. GE provided MDS Mercury 3650 radios to transmit electric utility meter data from customers’ homes and businesses to CenterPoint’s data center, in addition to program management and support services to build out the WiMax network. The Mercury 3650 allows for maximum signal range while supporting high data capacity. Since its deployment, CenterPoint says its smart meter system has allowed the utility to:

  • Reduce outages by more than 134 million minutes
  • Restore more than 1.5 million outages without a customer phone call
  • Save customers $20 million a year in eliminated fees
  • Save 1.4 million gallons of fuel, equal to 13,000 tons of CO2 emissions

The Mercury 3650 has a full 2×2 Multiple-in, Multiple-out (MIMO) antennas on the MDS Mercury Base Station and Subscriber units which provide a 3dB+ advantage. Its uplink biasing permits more data throughput for the uplink rather than the downlink, while superior processor speed accommodates subscriber unit interrogation and the use of remote network management systems such as GE’s MDS PulseNET.

About Us

Founded in 1999, Second Sight Systems is a total solutions provider for utility communications and technical field services.  Our Utility Field Services team is a provider of outsourced utility field operations and metering services to help improve efficiency, productivity, and response time.  This includes electric, gas and water.

As an exclusive distributor and integrator of GE’s next-generation MDS™ radios, Second Sight is a one stop shop for SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) communications for Utilities and Industrial applications, supplying a full-range of wireless solutions. To learn more, visit https://prdsecondsight.wpengine.com/services/wireless-data-systems/ or contact our Cybersecurity and Wireless Data Systems Team today at info@sssrf.com.

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