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Smart grid satellite communications market to hit $370 million by 2020

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Tuesday, July 03, 2012

With a number of new technological advancements now incorporated into smart grid deployments and the price of equipment and monthly services falling quickly, satellite communications are fast becoming a strong way to connect smart grid applications.

Whether it is substation automation, distribution automation, advanced metering infrastructure backhaul, remote monitoring or mobile workforce applications, satellites can help create a network over large areas. Now, as more satellite service providers enter the smart grid market, revenue from satellite services and smart grid equipment is expected to hit $368 million by 2020, according to a new Pike Research report. Current levels stand at $67 million.

"Satellite-based communications have historically been a last resort for grid operators, mostly for remote substation connectivity," said vice president Bob Gohn. "But improved cost and performance is allowing satellite communications to be used in an increasing number of grid applications, enabling a tripling of forecasted equipment revenue over the next 8 years, with even higher service revenue growth. Though satellite-based systems will remain a niche technology compared with terrestrial options, utilities will increasingly consider them in their list of communications options."

A number of utility executives have expressed caution over using satellites to transmit critical smart grid data due to issues over latency, interoperability, security and bandwidth efficiency. But Pike's latest research shows that several of these fears are based on an antiquated view of the smart grid industry. The development of several new technologies and products has led to improved cost, performance and reliability compared with older systems.

Advancements have cut the time it takes for round trip satellite communications to 600 milliseconds - latency that is acceptable for the bulk of smart grid applications. What's more, data rate options of up to several megabits per second are typically seen, while some systems could become even faster.

Pike's report, "Satellite Communications for Smart Grid Applications," delves into how satellite communications and smart grid deployments will be interwoven in the future, and focuses on the factors that will drive the advancements of such technology.

As satellite communications progress, SUBNET technologies will be instrumental in helping utilities connect their devices. SUBNET products can move data from any device across any communication system - including satellites - to any business system. With SUBNET's automation products, utilities know how to work with satellites and other communications to seamlessly move data across networks. 

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