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Highlights from UBBA’s inaugural “plugfest” for personal LTE— Failover to FirstNet in 5 seconds

When a non-public LTE check community at Utility Broadband Affiliation (UBBA) Plugfest 2021 was briefly disabled, attendees might be forgiven for going to get a snack. The check would measure our router’s failover time from Anterix’s 900 MHz personal LTE to AT&T’s FirstNet. For many routers that’s about 5 minutes. However simply 5 seconds later the Cisco Catalyst IR1101 Rugged Sequence Router had reconnected to FirstNet. The snackers missed it. Image it: line-status fault location, isolation, and repair restoration (FLISR) in 5 seconds versus 5 minutes. It’s an enormous advance for resilient grid operations.

This check came about at UBBA’s first ever plugfest, held in St. Louis from October 18-21, 2021. Based in 2019, UBBA’s mission is to assist members plan, design, and deploy safe, dependable, and resilient personal broadband networks to assist vital infrastructure. Members embody main utilities, expertise suppliers, and techniques integrators—all working collectively to share the newest approaches to grid communications, safety, and resiliency. Cisco is a founding member of the UBBA, and we’re large followers of its collaborative method to constructing a contemporary grid to maintain folks protected and society productive.

What’s a plugfest?

A plugfest is an occasion the place resolution suppliers come collectively in a single place to check interoperability. This 12 months’s UBBA Plugfest 2021 targeted on distribution automation, however check outcomes additionally apply to different LTE use circumstances akin to transmission and distribution substations, superior meter collectors, and related fleet autos. The occasion bought out, an indication that utilities are accelerating their grid modernization packages. Round 300 folks attended in individual to listen to audio system on matters akin to rural broadband and grid safety, go to vendor cubicles, and watch demonstrations just like the FirstNet failover check I described. Lots of extra attended nearly by way of Webex. We at Cisco have been happy to donate the shared switching and routing infrastructure for Plugfest in addition to Cisco Webex companies to broadcast the occasion to the various members becoming a member of nearly.

Non-public LTE—its star grows

An increasing number of of our utility prospects are contemplating personal LTE for grid modernization initiatives like distribution automation. LTE is confirmed. And Non-public LTE provides the velocity, flexibility, and safety wanted for an enormous quantity and number of endpoints and functions. Narrowband applied sciences like NB-IoT and Cat-M are fantastic for non-critical functions—as an illustration, sensors detecting whether or not poles are leaning or have been hit by a tree or automobile. Broadband is best suited to vital utility use circumstances. One cause is that broadband helps over-the-air router updates to take care of optimum safety posture. It’s now potential for medium-to-large utilities to deploy profitable personal LTE networks. It’s a confirmed expertise and utilities are discovering financial, operational, and safety benefits to them.

Quick failover, the lacking ingredient till now

The utilities I’ve met with say that bettering grid resilience is a key cause they’re leaning towards personal LTE. We designed our industrial routers with resilience in thoughts. You’ll be able to configure the IR1101 with single or twin pluggable communications modules (together with multicarrier modems), twin SIMs, and assist for a wide range of UE LTE classes. In checks at Plugfest, a single IR1101 connected efficiently to a number of distributors’ developed packet core (EPC) merchandise utilizing CBRS (3500 MHz band), Anterix (900 MHz), US Mobile (850 MHz), and FirstNet (750 MHz). The IR1101 failed over from Anterix to FirstNet with only a 5-second interruption in SCADA polling, utilizing customary IP-SLA configurations.

One router platform, many use circumstances

Moreover being resilient, our industrial routers come in several kind components to assist numerous utility use circumstances. Mount them in racks, on poles, or in autos. Use the identical pluggable modems that have been examined throughout UBBA Plugfest. All fashions are constructed to resist harsh environmental circumstances like excessive temperatures, mud, frequency interference, surge, and humidity. In fact, in addition they have utility certifications akin to IEC-61850-3 and IEEE 1613, and adjust to NERC-CIP.

Utilizing one router platform for all of your fashionable grid use circumstances means your workforce wants only one ability set. The big pool of Cisco-trained engineers makes these abilities simpler to come back by. Community automation expedites deployment whereas decreasing configuration errors. Together, a talented workforce and automation assist mitigate the first reason behind all community outages: human error. A standardized router platform and structure additionally make it simpler to implement compliance together with your safety coverage, for stronger cybersecurity safety.

UBBA Plugfest 2021 gave us fortunate attendees an inspiring glimpse into the way forward for the grid—and the facility of collaboration. Verify again for future blogs, when my staff will talk about the newest in grid modernization and utility digitization.

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