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Pilot TD-LTE Smart Grid Communication Network

8/6/2013 3:49:00 PM


China Southern Power Grid handles the investment, construction, and management of power transmission and distribution across five of China’s southern provinces. The Guangzhou Power Supply Bureau is affiliated with China Southern Power and provides power supply services to several areas in Guangzhou province.

As part of a 25-year plan, China Southern Power decided to research and apply new power distribution communications systems based on wireless communications technologies. It also wanted to focus on upgrading its automatic power distribution network. To accomplish these tasks, China Southern Power Grid will construct an integrated data collection platform and optimize the power distribution system’s data analysis functions.

China Southern Power began constructing small-scale test zones to develop its wireless smart grid. Guangzhou Power Supply piloted the wireless smart grid and verified whether the smart grid distribution network could function reliably in the most populated cities in Guangzhou.


Guangzhou Power Supply desperately needed automatic power distribution, automatic and intelligent metering, video surveillance, and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) capability. Guangzhou, as a megacity, extends its distribution terminals (secondary devices whose voltage are no more than 10 kV) from substations to numerous communities and factories over power supply cables. More than 100,000 distribution terminals are scattered throughout the city and operate in a harsh environment.

The smart grid’s development is slowed by poor communication efficiency between the power control systems in the equipment room and the numerous distribution terminals. Over the past few years, Guangzhou Power Supply has tried several traditional communication modes to improve it. Guangzhou Power Supply Bureau also faced the following challenges:

Non-existent wired access

It was not feasible to construct wired networks in some places, such as old urban areas. For example, construction projects in the populated downtown must be reviewed and approved by government agencies, construction is complicated, and there is a long implementation period. In addition, construction had excessively high material and labor costs plus complicated follow-up maintenance.

Expensive public networks failed to meet requirements

Public networks failed to meet service requirements for reasons such as poor security, high lease costs, and insufficient service resources.

Bandwidth for short-distance communication was limited and prone to environmental issues

The transmission distance of short-distance wireless communication was limited and substantially affected by geographic environment. Users could only use it to transmit some simple services on a small scale and it could not meet all requirements.

With the development of 4G wireless communications technologies, China Southern Power could alleviate many of the construction problems associated with an automatic power distribution network. Wireless broadband private networks not only freed wired networks from environmental restrictions, but also overcame the disadvantages of 2G/3G public networks, such as poor performance and insufficient resources.


To address requirements for deployability, high reliability, and high-speed access, Huawei offered a wireless smart grid solution. This solution is based on the 4G Time-Division Long-Term Evolution (TD-LTE) technology. This solution uses TD-LTE base stations in existing substations and office buildings. These base stations operate on an industry-dedicated wireless spectrum of 1.8G.

In addition, Huawei deployed dedicated TD-LTE modules with the distribution terminals, such as Remote Terminal Units (RTU), Data Transformation Units (DTU), and Feeder Terminal Units (FTU). Base stations combine data collected from multiple electric power terminals and send the data to the host station located in the central equipment room via an existing transmission network. This efficiently connects electric power terminals to power control systems in the control center, attaining automatic distribution.

This solution has the following key features:

High-bandwidth with wide coverage for a large number of users

Generally, power stations such as distribution rooms and ring main units are scattered across the city so base station use is low in populated areas. In response, Huawei used an array of industry-leading technologies, including Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), high-gain antennas, and High Power Amplifiers (HPA) to improve transmission power. One base station supports 1 mile (1.5 km) coverage radius, 99.999% reliability, and more than 30 Mbit/s bandwidth. Huawei’s base stations can provide full access for distribution terminals near the transformer stations and satisfy the high-bandwidth requirements of automatic power distribution, metering, and video surveillance services.

Automatic power distribution and metering involves numerous communication sites. Each site has a small volume of information, but the total of all the single-site information is huge. For this project, Guangzhou Power Supply provided concurrent access to over 400 terminals in a 1 sq. mile (1.5 sq. km) area. Huawei optimized access and enabled each base station to support over 3,000 concurrent users. This enables full access to current service distribution terminals and supports follow-up capacity expansion to provide access for different types of service terminals, including automatic metering and automatic distribution terminals, and charging piles. 

Multiple industry-specific terminal deployment modes

Electric power terminals come in varied models and demand varied deployment approaches. Huawei offers differentiated modular deployment modes, for example, underground cabinets and ultra-long-distance deployment, to improve coverage and enhance communication quality without any compromise in operational security and stability.

Multi-level Quality of Service (QoS) assurance and less than 100 ms access latency

In the automatic power distribution network, different service applications have different priorities. Based on refined service level-based management, the LTE system integrates radio resource management to ensure end-to-end QoS assurance. Huawei has tailored priority strategies for electric power services according to the LTE QoS mechanism. With these strategies, Huawei’s solution can support multiple services while ensuring that important data, such as automatic remote service data, can be preferentially transmitted.

This QoS mechanism works with Huawei’s real-time online terminals and latency minimizing solution to ensure less than 100 ms end-to-end latency. Huawei’s TD-LTE solution also uses an array of end-to-end data protection methods, including 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption and authentication encryption, to ensure high data security and reliability.


Huawei helps China Southern Power pioneer the construction of a wireless smart grid network in a megacity to bring several key benefits:

Verifying the feasibility of wireless smart grids in central business districts

The large number of skyscrapers in Guangzhou has made the deployment of electric power terminals more difficult and complicated the construction of wireless networks. Compared with small and mid-sized cities, the environment of Guangzhou has created challenging coverage and access requirements. Fortunately, Huawei successfully made multiple technological innovations and breakthroughs and, most importantly, verified the feasibility of setting up wireless smart grids in central business districts.

Simple deployment and maintenance, improved distribution communication efficiency, reduced maintenance costs

One base station can provide over 1 mile (1.5 km) of coverage, which enables regional electric power terminals to access the smart grid quickly using TD-LTE modules. Air interfaces connect communication sites to improve deployment efficiency of distribution communication networks and save maintenance costs.

Multi-service applications

Huawei’s solution can efficiently satisfy the high-bandwidth requirements of distribution network communication and an array of advanced applications, HD video surveillance, BYOD, and multimedia clusters.