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German energy network operator E.DIS AG/E.ON Germany tests Huawei‘s LTE based technology for providing more effective M2M communications
High on E.ON’s agenda is improving machine-to-machine (M2M) communications within its power plants. In choosing a solution, it needed to understand how essential equipment scattered throughout a complex of over 300 square kilometres can communicate remotely with the control room and with each other in the most effective way.
The project group had already identified LTE mobile network technology as potentially the best way of doing this, but wanted to see how it would perform in the context of the unique challenges posed by the various locations in which equipment is housed. To do this it decided to conduct a Proof of Concept (POC) trial.
“We wanted to understand the scalability of the technology and show how much better the architecture of LTE technology is, when compared to GSM and Wi-Fi networks,” says Volkmar Behr, CFO, Avacon Natur (a subsidiary company within the E.ON group) and leader of E.ON’s “450MHz”-project.
Prior to starting the trial, the project – in cooperation with the current licence holder for 450 - obtained a permission from the German Communications regulator (Bundesnetzagentur) to use the 450 MHz frequency band for a test. Once this had been granted, the trial team set about addressing a number of potential issues it had identified.
Transmission delay was also a principle concern. When sending data to the control room, calculations and other actions have to be taken instantaneously. The LTE solutions had to demonstrate that the latency, which normally occurs in complex mobile networks, was minimal.
Another issue related to indoor coverage.
“A lot of our equipment is located in building basements. We needed to understand if our LTE system could bridge the distance to the base station in a reliable way and with no loss of data,” explains Volkmar Behr.
The company also wanted to make sure the system could handle large volumes of data coming over varying distances, at the same time.
Using Huaweii’s 4G LTE technology over the 450 MHz frequency band, it created an operational testing area with a radius of 10 kilometres over which it would transmit data to servers in distant control rooms.
At the heart of the configuration were two components: a Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) core and a LTE core working simultaneously on the same spectrum. Huawei was the first vendor in the world to demonstrate dual CDMA and LTE network core capabilities without interference issues.
Huaweii’s multiband and multimode solution effectively assure operators a smooth and cost-efficient upgrade from a 2G/3G to a LTE network.
For transmitting data via a base station to the control room, a SingleRAN was installed. It is based on radio access network (RAN) architecture – enabling telecommunications operators to support multiple mobile communications standards and wireless telephone services on a single network. This technology incorporates a software-defined radio device, and is designed with a consolidated set of hardware components.
The purpose of conducting the POC was to learn if LTE based data transmission was viable to support E.ON’s requirement for more efficient M2M communication.
By deploying Huawei’s LTE core, all the potential issues identified were resolved with data being transferred in an efficient and reliable way. Besides distance, other external variables such as humidity were also taken into account as they can influence data transmission between remote equipment and the central control room.
The trial also demonstrated the importance of managing and configuring the key parameters related to external variables in the LTE core, to make sure high availability and fast uplink capacity was available at all times during the test.
Jochen Kernchen, Solutions expert at E.ON’s 450-project continues: “We experimented with adjusting certain key parameters manually on one base station. As a result we are confident that if we were to deploy several thousand across a mountainous landscape, our engineers, together with Huawei‘s experts, can adjust them automatically and remotely.”
“With Huawei’s invaluable support we have done our research and testing and are now fully prepared to take our clients to the next level,” concludes Volkmar Behr.
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Avacon Natur is the regional power network operator in Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia.
It has around 16 million customers and covers an area of more than 55,000 square kilometres, extending from the North Sea coast to South Hesse. The company supplies its customers safely with energy, via a combination of high, medium and low voltage lines totaling 66,000 km in length and a natural gas network of more than 20,000 km.
Avacon is part of the E.ON group, but is at the same time, highly regional. More than 80 communities and districts hold 36.9 percent stake in Avacon.
For more information, please visit: avacon-natur.de
E.DIS AG is one of four regional power network operators within the e.on Germany group.
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