5 Reasons to Switch to LTE
Author: Lily Ho, Vice-President of Product Marketing
If you are a utility company that depends on cellular service for data backhaul, and if you have not done so already, you need to plan now for a transition to LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology. The most pressing reason for switching is the fact that major carriers such as AT&T and Verizon are ending earlier versions of their networks. AT&T, for example, shut down its 2G network on January 1, while Verizon has announced that it will end its CDMA 1X network, the backbone of its 2G and 3G service, in December of 2019.
And though consumers with older phones and cellular products were primarily affected by the AT&T shutdown, some public services also had problems. Online publication Digital Trends reported that when AT&T shut down its system, public transit vehicles without upgraded systems stopped showing up on NextMuni, San Francisco’s system for predicting the departure and arrival of trains and buses. According to the publication, NextMuni officials said the problem could take weeks to resolve.
Check out 5 reasons you need to switch
It is important that utilities plan now to switch to LTE. Cellular providers have spent years preparing LTE networks, building them from the ground up rather than tying together separate 2G and 3G networks acquired during acquisitions. They have invested billions of dollars in spectrum as well as the infrastructure needed for LTE such as new and upgraded towers, better switches and improved backhaul.
The resulting LTE networks are expected to be around for 20 years or more, even accounting for future improvements in technology. So, utilities using older cellular services need to be proactive in preparing to move to LTE before the sun-setting of older cellular technologies.
Today’s LTE networks provide significant advantages over previous 2G and 3G networks. With LTE you can:
- Configure LTE networks as virtual private networks with private IP addresses tailored to your network operation needs.
- Easily install and preconfigure it to provision and activate automatically when they arrive at your facility.
- Use it to connect directly to meter, sensor or distribution asset and provide tunneling of native serial protocols over secure IP networking without the addition of networking or SCADA hardware.
- Use existing software solutions such as MV90 for transferring and managing data.
- Use LTE bandwidth to bring back data, such as waveform captures, that today remain locked away in meters that are on a network that does not have the bandwidth to bring it back.
A Solution for Today – and Tomorrow
Today, LTE networks provide uniform nationwide coverage, even in remote areas. What’s more, LTE technology is not likely to be replaced by new technologies in the near future.
Even though cellular providers already are working on so-called 5G solutions, these technologies may not compete directly with current LTE networks. The spectrum upon which it is built is in the upper gigahertz range, from 11 to 23 GHz. This high-frequency band allows for extremely high bandwidth, but has short propagation and poor building penetration.
These networks will not replace 4G LTE for the metering and utility uses that we have, but will primarily serve as a replacement for fiber to the home. So, 5G networks will put superior, 100 Mbps bandwidth capable of carrying television and data streaming services in the neighborhoods of the future, but without the enormous cost of trenching fiber to every home.
What does this mean for you?
That LTE is here to stay and will future-proof your investments for years to come.
How can Aclara help?
Aclara can help you prepare for LTE with a transition plan that evaluates:
- Your cellular commercial meter population
- Your private networking needs
- Your meter-shop tools
- Your additional software needs
Aclara offers end-to-end solutions to help you maximize the benefits of LTE:
- Aclara meters
Aclara offers a number of ANSI commercial meters tuned to work on cellular networks. For more information, click here.
- Aclara Metrum Cellular wireless network
Aclara offers end-to-end solution, providing the highest value devices, cellular service and customer service and implementation. In addition, Metrum Cellular operates like a virtual private network over public cellular networks, offering secure communications at the lowest possible cost. Aclara also has negotiated agreements with the major cellular carriers to provide service at the lowest possible rates.
- Aclara Meter Mate tools
Aclara’s meter-shop tool, Meter Mate, is fully compatible with the Metrum Cellular under-glass modem. Aclara will help you evaluate your Meter Mate deployment and provide an upgrade path to the latest Meter Mate software or from another meter configuration tool.
- Additional software
Aclara offers software options for collecting data as well. For example, Metrum Cellular solutions are fully compatible with industry standards such as MV-90 as well as the Aclara iiDEAS platform, on which its headend software is based. We also can provide you with advanced mapping services through our teaming relationships with providers. We take any location data such as latitude and longitude or address, and return to you a study showing the strength of LTE coverage in any given area. This allows you to plan appropriately for where you can easily place LTE meters prior to installation.
For additional information, Download Presentation or contact your Aclara representative at 800-297-2278.