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    Thailand MEA: Building a Highly-Reliable Power Communications Network

An electric power communications network is a major part of an electric power system, so it's imperative to build a highly-reliable electric power communications network, and cutting-edge technology will make this happen.

The Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) in Thailand is a state-owned enterprise under the Ministry of Interior (MOI), and was established in 1958. The main business activity of MEA is electricity distribution in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, and Samut Prakan, covering a total area of approximately 3,192 square kilometers and serving 3.5 million customers. In terms of the revenue breakdown of the MEA, 99.94% comes from its core business, and 0.06% from other business.

MEA's mission statement is to "innovate and operate a smart energy system to empower city life for smart living", which leads directly to its committed vision of "Energy for city life, Energize smart living". With such prominent forward-looking statements, how will MEA achieve its mission and vision? The key is cutting-edge technology. An electric power communications network is a major part of an electric power system, so it's imperative to build a highly-reliable electric power communications network, and cutting-edge technology will make this happen.

MEA's existing ICT network is comprised of three layers: IT and OT platforms at the top layer; fiber transmission and PON network as well as wireless network at the network layer; SCADA system, smart meter, CCTV, sensor, and inspection robot at the access layer. In relation to MEA's ICT network architecture, MEA has the following expectations:

• Build a highly-secure, highly-stable, and highly-reliable network using fiber optic transmission and enhance energy stability for Bangkok, Nonthaburi, and Samut Prakan residents.

• Provide a host of digital services to improve user experiences. For example, achieve high bandwidth and low latency to support MEA applications, data centers, and IoT systems.

• Promote smart grid development, so as to provide flexible services for the SCADA system, smart meter, CCTV, and sensors.

The advanced network can be looked at from five dimensions: flexible bandwidth for services, security and reliability for protecting services such as SCADA, high speed and agility for deployment, lower latency for service stability, and an improved user experience.

Technologies have evolved from PDH, SDH, WDM, and OTN, with the latest innovation being OSU. All these technologies provide native hard pipes (NHPs). In the past, hard pipe technologies were used to carry services like electric power production services. With the development of hard pipe technologies, OSU technology is used to build a unified electric power bearer network that features high security, ultra-low latency, and simplified architecture, improving security and efficiency. Reassuringly, NHP meets MEA's expectations for cutting-edge technology and ticks all the boxes for the five evaluation dimensions.

High reliability is required for electric power communication services like SCADA services to ensure real-time performance and low latency. In addition, electric power services need to be physically isolated from each other due to the specific characteristics of electric power services. On top of this, the electrical power communications network must be future-proof in order to cope with situation awareness and IoT services.

MEA actively cooperates with Huawei and has deployed the SDH ASON and DWDM OTN networks. Huawei brings the SDH ASON solution to help MEA achieve high reliability on SCADA networks to ensure service continuity against more than two fiber faults. This forms part of the stability of the energy network. Huawei has also offered the DWDM OTN solution for Data Center Interconnect (DCI) networks. The OTN solution helps reduce the wavelength quantity, achieve low latency, increase WDM port bandwidth utilization to 100%, and support flexible expansion and upgrades without any service interruptions. Based on this, MEA is able to build a highly reliable electric power communications network.

Thanatkit Sawatnanthiku, Director of Network Systems Division, MEA, said, "The power communication network based on NHP, featuring high security, ultra-low latency, and simplified architecture, meets the requirements of our electric power service development. It is compatible with existing service systems and future-oriented."