The Shift to Microwave Broadband Is Coming Sooner than You Think

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The tide is shifting on acceptance and adoption of microwave radio as a viable alternative or supplement to fibre and economics may dictate more of the same.

For many in the telecommunications industry the recognition of microwave as a viable alternative to fibre to create carrier grade bandwidth with industry leading latency is not old news.

It has been frustrating to witness that the marketplace has not recognized this fact in a substantial and meaningful way. That does appear to be changing.

Late last year, Jason Bunge of Dow Jones wrote about the pace and level of high speed microwave adoption that has taken place recently in the securities exchange markets in North America and Europe. His article highlights how the deployment of high speed broadband over microwave is about to outpace fibre network deployment this year. As Bunge notes this is an industry where milliseconds count and where the highest standards of speed and network reliability are considered essential.

What is driving the change is cost efficiency and timeliness as the exchange business needs to address declining trade volumes by increasing speed and efficiency in their markets without breaking the bank to do it.

Many consider the capital markets to be technology leaders in the Financial Services (FS) sector and highly influential concerning the use and adoption of technology and telecom innovation. If the leaders of the FS sector are ready to make the jump to microwave radio it bodes well for the broader adoption of this standard within that sector and beyond.

Consider for a moment that the economics is driving the shift away from fibre and it becomes clear that there are other sectors that could likewise realize the same benefits and make the switch. If not for primary connections to office locations, it will be used as secondary to locations that have fibre available. Industries like oil and gas extraction, mining, Manufacturing, retail and the public sector are all witness to both exponential growth in data and the opportunity to use data to quickly and effectively deliver innovative new products and services to an increasingly “high demand” business place. If it is also recognized as an alternative or supplement that is more cost effective than traditional fibre deployment, widespread adoption of microwave radio  is not far behind? It is not the innovation of technology that is the biggest driver of change but the “mother of necessity” economics that makes change all the more compelling.

– Rob Barlow, CEO

About WireIE: We deliver carrier-grade Transparent Ethernet Solutions backed by SLAs. With a custom blend of fiber and digital to suit your circumstances, we transform, extend and support your communications networks in rural and remote areas. +1.905.882.4660 | www.wireie.com |info@wireie.com

Smart Grid in Ontario – A Great Positive Step

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On June 8, 2012, the Government of Ontario took the next step in their Clean Energy Economic Development Strategy, with the release of the Clean Energy Institute (CEI). The new institute will bring together industry leaders and utility companies to build on Ontario’s strengths in smart grid technologies and other clean energy innovations.

In conjunction with the CEI, Mars hosted the Future Energy Summit focused on bringing some of the top minds in clean energy to give feedback and help design the Smart Grid we need. A smarter grid will spearhead better tools to manage electricity use, help utilities prevent, detect and restore outages and ultimately connect every home and building to a renewable energy grid, therefore, decreasing green house gas emissions.

WireIE contributes to the Smart Grid by partnering with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) to define the operational requirements of a communications network supporting Smart Grid. By modeling various rural and urban electricity distribution scenarios, communication network specifications have been developed. This collaboration continues as WireIE sponsors the study and modeling of new Smart Grid applications.

WireIE is now part of this new funding released today by the Energy Minister for a Durham region trial. This will advance our current research into a live production environment. As a Smart Grid future is enabled in Ontario WireIE will continue to lead with its partners.

For more information on Ontario’s Clean Energy Institute:
http://news.ontario.ca/mei/en/2012/06/ontario-creating-a-clean-energy-institute.html

For more information on Smart Grid projects:
http://news.ontario.ca/mei/en/2012/06/smart-grid-projects.html

For more information about Microwave Technologies for Carrier Ethernet Services, download this MEF document

About WireIE: We deliver carrier-grade Transparent Ethernet Solutions backed by SLAs. With a custom blend of fiber and digital to suit your circumstances, we transform, extend and support your communications networks in rural and remote areas. +1.905.882.4660 | www.wireie.com |info@wireie.com

Microwave and Carrier Ethernet: Separating Fact from Fiction

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If you want to cause a stir, walk into a room full of seasoned technicians and mention microwave. Citing the twin fears of limited capacity and weather-dependent performance, many will offer stories of past problems without realizing that, like many other things in life, microwave has moved on.

The Future is not the Past

The legacy-based, analog solutions of the past bear no resemblance to modern microwave. Dismiss the new developments, and you could find yourself missing out on the many business benefits that today’s digital radio technologies bring.

Increasingly, organizations are discovering the advantages of a converged network platform that combines Carrier Ethernet and point-to-point digital radio to provide a new, highly effective method of voice and data transport. With the benefit of alternative thinking, smart solutions providers are overcoming terrestrial challenges and building advanced communications networks in some surprisingly remote areas – where often dial up had been the only option.

Two Strong Technologies

In response to our appetite for higher bandwidth and budget-conscious performance, over the past decade Carrier Ethernet has moved to centre stage – and continues to evolve today. Checking all the boxes, it’s a quicker, simpler and cheaper way to connect people with information. Plus, with Ethernet, it’s easy to build extensions or make adjustments down the road. And terrestrial microwave has proven to be an excellent partner for fiber in access networks – playing an increasingly valuable role in support of rich media applications like video, VoIP and disaster recovery.

The Question of Capacity

It’s time to dispel some of the myths and reveal the facts about microwave:

  • Gigabit capacity is already a reality – and it’s enough for most Carrier Ethernet applications.
  • Service-aware traffic management allows you to differentiate voice and data packets by type, to avoid bottlenecks and smooth demand.
  • Adaptive code modulation technology increases bandwidth capacity and also means you can deploy microwave equipment in densely populated areas.
  • Nodal function optimizes radio bandwidth resources and makes it easier for you to scale.
  • Packet technology is flexible, which means you can use microwave to get an optimal increase in data rates.
  • Over-air capacity is increased with microwave by using multiple transmission channels at different carrier frequencies. Capacity has also grown through enhancements like cross polarization, interference cancellation and data compression.

The Latest Weather Report

Although weather can affect microwave, technology enhancements have made it easier to deal with bad conditions, and custom-engineered links are specifically designed to account for the elements:

  • Adaptive modulation protects your network from weather effects by varying radio throughput, making adjustments according to the performance of air interface channels.
  • Frequency diversity makes your network resilient to bad-weather fading.

A New Form of Transport

The evolution of microwave technology offers a valuable opportunity to combine Carrier Ethernet services with digital radio to provide end-to-end network transport services. Offering limitless reach, this converged platform will give you the performance and capacity to communicate faster and more flexibly at a price that suits your CFO – even when geography is not on your side.

Network Architecture Considerations for Smart Grid

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Most would agree that the traditional centralized electrical distribution model will evolve to a distributed generation (DG) model. When this occurs, and to what degree remains to be seen. Regardless, a smart grid communications infrastructure is essential in the safe, reliable and efficient management of a DG infrastructure.

For the past couple of years, WireIE has worked in collaboration with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in developing a model for a smart grid distribution system of the future. Faculty in the university’s Electrical Engineering & Applied Science program, along with their students, have modeled a number of distributed generation scenarios from the utility’s perspective. One of the many outcomes of this exercise has been a clearer specification of communication network requirements to support these distributed generation scenarios.

Communication Network Requirements
A smart grid communications network must support a number of applications, some mission critical, while others are comparatively forgiving. As our UOIT colleagues specify, the operation of taking a distributed generation source on or off line demands execution of the transition in no more than 5 – 6 cycles, or 80 – 100 milliseconds. In contrast, other administrative functions such as a dispatch applications may be tolerant of a number of seconds delay.

With UOIT’s DG scenarios in mind, our most critical communications network specification is latency. Latency is defined as the time taken for an element of data to transcend a link, or series of links, in a data communications network. We therefore need to factor in the very stringent latency requirements of DG while also recognizing that our smart grid communications network will be handling significant volumes of less time-sensitive administrative traffic.

Communications Network Architecture
A smart grid communications network must support protection and control functions at DG interconnection points. These sites include facilities on the grid itself, along with businesses and residences where alternative energy may also to be available to the grid. With a clear delineation between mission-critical operations and those more tolerant of latency and throughput variations, a dual or potentially multi-layered, communications network is envisioned.

One can think of the bottom layer of the network being administrative and housekeeping oriented. It is designed for high reliability but it also has comparatively high forgiveness of latency, along with other network performance variations. Geographically, this layer covers a wide area – potentially all of a Local Distribution Company – and is appropriately referred to as a Wide Area Network (WAN). In contrast, the top layer is composed of several Local Area Networks (LANs). All LANs connect to the WAN so that communication can take place between the Operations Centre on the WAN and remote sites on the network.

 

Mouse Over the Image to Reveal the LAN Layer

The Drawing Assumes an IEC 61850 Interface as a Demarcation Between Electrical Utility and Communication Network Assets

While this basic topology is by no means revolutionary, the mission-criticality of many protection and control functions will require unprecedented robustness and redundancy – particularly on the LAN layer, and often at the network edge. As is the trend with many modern networks, edge oriented data processing and storage yields significant bandwidth efficiencies, along with a commensurate improvement in network performance and service reliability.

The LAN’s primary purpose is to execute time-sensitive, mission-critical protection and control operations such as a DG source switch-over. It should be noted that DG operational decision making is not the same thing as the actual execution of the operational decision. This distinction is important in that business and operational policies and decision-making do not occur on the LAN. Instead, a centralized operations facility, or perhaps a collection of regional operations centres, are located on the WAN. Among other things, these centres are where operational decisions are made and subsequently delivered to the appropriate LAN. Once an instruction is delivered to the appropriate LAN, local sensing and measuring equipment determine whether conditions are conducive to actual execution on the instruction. The outcome of the instruction (executed successfully, failed) is then delivered from the LAN to the operations centre via the WAN.

Why not consolidate the WAN and LAN layers? The main reason relates to the wide range of expectations placed on the smart grid communication network as a whole. As previously mentioned, protection and control functions are comparatively demanding of the network in terms of reliability and low latency, whereas administrative functions are quite forgiving.

As a self-contained network within a larger ‘network of networks’, the local aspect of a LAN has some very important attributes in supporting protection and control. As a topologically simple, self-contained local network, a LAN is very fast – an essential characteristic in executing protection and control operations. Not only are communication link distances short in a LAN, there are fewer hops (a linear collection of communication links) per communication channel. Multiple hops introduce aggregate latency. An additional inherent benefit of the LAN’s simplicity is reduced points of failure within the LAN itself. In fact in most situations, the LAN can operate autonomously should there be either a planned or unforeseen disconnection from the WAN. Predefined operational policies would stipulate the degree to which the LAN can operate autonomously in the event of a disconnection from the WAN.

Communications Network Technology Considerations
Many DG sources are in locations where limited or no communications infrastructure exists. In these cases deployment of digital radio, or a digital radio/fiber optic hybrid is both attractive and pragmatic.

WireIE’s Transparent Ethernet Solutions™ (TES) are built with exceptionally low latency characteristics – all backed up by a Service Level Agreement (SLA). WireIE TES can be deployed in a point-to-point, or point-to-multipoint topology. For access, Long Term Evolution(LTE) promises very attractive latency characteristics, well within the requirements set out by our friends at UOIT. WiMAX(Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) also shows potential as a Smart Grid access technology — particularly WiMAX 802.16m, recently approved by the ITU.

Single hop latency in a WiMAX or LTE link measured from base station to CPE (customer premises equipment), is typically equal to or less than 10 milliseconds. Aggregate latency must therefore be kept safely below 50 milliseconds on all protection and control paths. Again, containing execution of distributed generation activities to a LAN ensures latency thresholds are not exceeded.

WireIE TES, LTE and WiMAX offer a number of sophisticated capabilities over and above impressive latency characteristics. All employ dynamic radio link quality management capabilities. Throughput is traded off for link robustness in the event the quality of a radio path should deteriorate. The reverse is also true as radio path quality improves. The mechanism facilitating throughput verses robustness is known as adaptive modulation.

It is essential that each digital radio link be engineered to exceptionally strict path propagation specifications because of the mission critical nature of smart grid protection and control applications. This entails exhaustive path analysis and a subsequent network design to ensure that every radio path is never at risk of engaging a modulation scheme below a carefully calculated threshold. As a fixed network, radio link reliability can be achieved with a high degree of predictability. That said, best-of-breed engineering is an essential ingredient from a reliability and performance perspective. In addition, network redundancy and/or diversity must be incorporated into the design, thus enhancing overall reliability and equally important, allowing for any and all network failure scenarios. Further protection against communication network failures must also be addressed as the application layer.

Conclusion
A properly engineered LAN using digital radio technologies such as WireIE’s TES, LTE and WiMAX will provide a safe and reliable platform by which to execute critical protection and control operations such as a DG switch-over. The underlying WAN provides the necessary communications foundation to administer such activities. The WAN also supports the broader administrative, ‘house keeping’ activities envisioned for smart grid.

WireIE President & CEO Quoted in Canadian Green Tech

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Canadian Green Tech recently spoke with WireIE President & CEO, Rob Barlow, regarding the role green technology plays as an ingredient in defining the WireIE brand. The following article is reproduced with permission from the author.

Enabling as Brand

Written by Lars Hansen
Tuesday, 01 March 2011 13:02

One of the key considerations that often enter into building and enhancing a corporate brand for your business is to determine its focus. A secondary and often overlooked consideration is brand extension.

It is a practice borne of migrating the value of one specific product or service into a secondary product or service category. There are many examples of this tactic including the well-known ones such as Tylenol where the brand has been extended across numerous other product categories beyond pain relief or Virgin where the company has rolled out numerous new divisions offering completely different and unique service categories. Some would say that a business such as Virgin is in fact a “brand extension” factory that rents its brand out to new ventures and sectors without restriction.

In contrast however, there exists in many business scenarios a means to extend your business brand in a very immediate fashion by first and foremost considering what your brand “enables” for your clients. For the green energy sector this consideration should be made carefully to recognize and appreciate if the concept you have of your business is shared or is plausible to the customers you support. If you don’t do a meaningful and objective consideration of your value in the green equation you may open yourself up to questions of “green washing” and diminish your brand value overall by being seen as opportunistic instead of genuine.

If you achieved positive results from an objective analysis of your “value” as it relates to having a real impact on the development and provision of sustainable and environmentally friendly products and services, you may want to give serious consideration to extending your corporate brand as an enabler.

One approach to this is to understand if you have to explain how your product is an enabler that helps create a greener outcome or if it flows logically from what you are already doing. If there isn’t a logical connection you may still want to extend your brand in that direction but recognize that it will take more effort and time compared to simply adding voice and volume to something your business and your customers will already recognize.

WireIE is a telecommunications consulting firm who has moved their business in recent years into smart grid enablement. Smart Grids have been an integral focus of discussion around infrastructure renewal, green energy generation and distribution for some time now. However the actual operational demands for creating and managing a smart grid have received relatively less attention. The focus of WireIE is to apply their wireless communications knowledge and experience to the specific challenges of creating the “intelligence or data layer” of operational smart grids.

In this role, WireIE confidently sees it self as a true enabler of smart grid deployments and in effect a vital part of the equation required to bring more alternative/green energy generation online in place like Ontario.

“When we deliver a technology or service we assess our ability to include green deliverables and operational strategies in the finished product internally and to the client,” says Rob Barlow, president and CEO of WireIE. “It does not affect our brand; it is built into our brand and our culture.”

One of the benefits that this affords to WireIE is the way in which it makes the firm important to the green conversation for its clients who very often might have green aspirations and plans but are not well equipped to overcome on their own the challenges they face in realizing those plans.

By actively promoting their “green enabler” status Barlow feels that they are showcasing how they are a practical benefit to the challenges faced by distributors and generators looking to make their plans for smart grid deployment.

“We affirm our ability to be an important part of the conversation on green and sustainable development with our clients by presenting our services in that light,” he says. “It makes it easier for us and for our customers. We are ‘assuring’ that green or sustainable development has already been thought of, assessed as a constraint or assumption in whatever we deliver.”

Staking out this brand territory is at the same time not something that WireIE leaves as an isolated consideration. The company actively engages in making its “important to the conversation” status well earned through investments in R&D that are serving to simultaneously advance the industry’s ability to successfully deploy and operate smart grids in a manner that is practical, cost effective and well planned. Smart grid deployments in themselves create a series of new and unique challenges associated with migrating power grids from the traditional mega project and base load architecture of the past into a more flexible architecture. This new paradigm contemplates a broader use of distributed and intermittent power sources along with variable rate metering options and changing status for business and individuals as both consumers and generators of power the grid.

WireIE sees these challenges as opportunities to make real their commitment to smart grid enablement and to share and communicate with customers how they can help bring sustainability to life.

“We participate at the university research level, by participating in developing intellectual property for smart grid on boarding of alternative energy,” said Barlow. “We partner with organizations that have the same approach to sustainability and green and then actively share that research insight through blogging, tweeting and promoting our own whitepapers and activities.”

It’s an approach that has helped WireIE to build a new and meaningful brand extension into a market where their knowledge base and expertise are finding new applications and creating benefits for customers in the green energy sector.

Lars Hansen is the Principal and Founder of C2E Consulting, a marketing and communications agency based in Toronto. He can be reached at lars@c2e.ca. For more information on C2E Consulting, go to www.c2e.ca.

An Intelligent View of Intelligent Energy

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Recently, Rob Barlow, President and C.E.O. of WireIE sat down and shared his point of view on the evolution of Intelligent Energy networks and how this evolution fits into WireIE’s commitment to Intelligent Energy systems.

As specialists in designing, building and managing Next Generation wireless networks, WireIE established an exclusive relationship with The University of Ontario’s Institute of Technology (UOIT) in 2009 to advance the understanding of ‘Intelligent Energy’ networks and the communications infrastructure required to optimize their performance.  In the interview, Rob explains that WireIE’s expertise in maximizing networks is very much in sync with the growing demand for ‘Smart Grids’ or, ‘Intelligent Energy’ systems. In particular,  Rob highlights that  communications infrastructure “is perhaps the most important determining factor in deciding the scale and operational limits of a power grid. The absence of a robust communications infrastructure will undermine the utility of the grid. It is that important.”

During the interview, Rob provides his opinion and insight into the following questions:

  • How does ‘Intelligent Energy’ fit into WireIE’s business model?
  • What’s driving the interest in ‘Intelligent Energy’?
  • What do you believe needs to be done now?
  • How do you see the evolving role of the communications infrastructure?
  • What changes have you seen over the past few years?
  • What other factors will impact the evolution of Intelligent Energy?
  • What can we expect from WireIE?

Latest White Paper – Energy & Emissions at Cellular Base Stations

Our latest White Paper entitled, “Energy & Emissions at Cellular Base Stations: Smart Cell Site Design for Energy Efficiency & Reduced Carbon Footprint” is now available for download on the WireIE website.

Abstract: Alternative energy technologies are rapidly becoming more sophisticated, reliable and cost effective.  This paper first explores decisions that can be made by the wireless network operator at the site design stage to reduce power consumption.  It then examines the business case for solar and wind power at radio base station sites where grid power is unreliable or unavailable.

About the Author: John Willson, P.Eng., has over ten years of experience as an engineer in the wireless telecommunications industry. He has held a wide variety of roles from network design, optimization and traffic modeling to technology development and technology planning. John has built three generations of cellular networks, and was instrumental in launching GPS services at a major Canadian wireless carrier. John holds a Bachelor of Engineering Physics from McMaster University, and is a licensed Professional Engineer in the province of Ontario. No stranger to translating between dollars and decibels, John is adept at producing analysis at the complex intersection of performance and cost. He is currently exploring opportunities to reduce the energy, carbon and waste footprints of the telecom industry.

New Press Release – WireIE and UOIT Release Collaborative Smart Grid White Paper

WireIE and UOIT Release Collaborative Smart Grid White Paper

Nov. 5, 2009 (Richmond Hill, ON) – WireIE Holdings International Inc. and University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) are pleased to release a comprehensive White Paper entitled, “Developing a Communication Infrastructure for the Smart Grid”.

The White Paper walks through two future Distributed Generation (DG) scenarios, as envisioned by the authors V.K. Sood, D. Fischer, and J.M. Eklund from UOIT, and WireIE CTO Tim Brown.

The paper is a collaborative effort and details the communication network and data management facilities required to meet the strict latency requirements associated with the with DG scenarios discussed.

The WireIE/UOIT partnership is a long-term commitment by the partners and focuses on the advancing of Smart Grid. A computer simulation based on the White Paper is currently being worked on in order to validate the conceptual design of the communication network and data management facilities. The results of the computer simulation will be released in Feb. 2010.

The White Paper may be found here.

Abstract:

The Smart Grid of the future, while expected to affect all areas of the Electric Power System, from Generation, to Transmission, to Distribution, cannot function without an extensive data communication system. Smart Grid has the potential to support high levels of Distributed Generation (DG); however the current standards governing the interconnection of DG do not allow the implementation of several applications which may be beneficial to the grid. This paper discusses some of the Smart Grid applications, and estimates the communication requirements of a medium data intensive Smart Grid device. Two issues that will become very important with the spread of DG are DG Islanding and DG Availability. For each issue, we propose data communication enabled solutions and enhancements.

About WireIE

WireIE Holdings International Inc. is a global provider of wireless network transformations and extensions. These solutions scale from large urban, regional, and national networks, to campus and enterprise networks. With unique expertise in wireless/IP integration, WireIE offers a whole product solution in support of wireless technologies including but not limited to, UMTS and EV-DO (3G/3.5G), along with fourth generation technologies including WiMAX and LTE. WireIE can provide a suite of solutions for Local Electricity Distributors who are adding enhanced intelligence and control to their grid. We can design, build and operate the broadband communication network that will enable Smart Grid applications and devices. More information about WireIE is available at https://www.wireie.com/.

About UOIT

As an innovative university, UOIT delivers a leading-edge learning environment that uniquely combines academic knowledge, research opportunities, hands-on skills and a vibrant student life. UOIT’s more than 5,500 students are taught by professors who are experts in their fields from around the world. UOIT’s commitment to research excellence has resulted in millions of dollars in grants and awards, including five Canada Research Chairs. More information about UOIT is available at www.uoit.ca.

Photos from EUCI Conference

WireIE CTO Tim Brown (Left) presents at EUCI Conference in Toronto, Sept. 23, 2009

Tim Brown (Right) about to deliver his joint presentation developed with WireIE’s strategic partner the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), entitled, “A Smart Grid Communication Infrastructure in Support of Distributed Generation”.

Media Advisory – WireIE Holdings International Inc. Delivers Smart Grid Presentation at EUCI Conference

RICHMOND HILL, ON, Sept. 25 /CNW/ – WireIE Holdings International Inc. is proud to have been the VIP sponsor for the Electric Utility Consultants Inc. (EUCI) Conference, “Distributed Generation Using Renewable Energy: Realizing The Potential” on Sept. 22-23, 2009 in Toronto.

The conference was part of “Green Energy Week”, and focused on strategies to accelerate renewable energy production in order to reduce climate change impacts.

WireIE Chief Technology Officer Tim Brown participated in a panel discussion and delivered his joint presentation developed with WireIE’s strategic partner the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), entitled, “A Smart Grid Communication Infrastructure in Support of Distributed Generation”.

The presentation explored how low-latency wireless networks can reliably manage real-time switching of a distributed generation source.

In concluding the presentation, Mr. Brown invited the audience to follow the progress of the WireIE/UOIT collaboration on a Smart Grid distributed generation simulation being built at the university. Based on the findings, the intent is to deploy a prototype Smart Grid communication infrastructure incorporating a distributed generation environment at a Local Distribution Company (LDC).

The presentation can be found here:

https://www.wireie.com/presentation-downloads/

WireIE Smart Grid Foundation(TM) specializes in Next Generation Networks in support of Smart Grid, and offers unique in-depth expertise in broadband wireless technologies that extend from the IP Core, across the backhaul, to the network edge. UOIT offers the vision of an electrical utility based on Smart Grid, while WireIE provides the communication network vision in support of Smart Grid.