Next Generation Communications Community members are aware that it is not just communications service providers (CSPs) that have a sense of urgency to upgrade their networks to meet current and future demands. In fact, in the past several months we have covered network upgrades in a variety of vertical markets including railways, governments, air transport facilities and public utilities, just to name a few. The latter is exemplified by the announcement that Nokia (News - Alert) has delivered state-of-the-art IP/MPLS (Internet Protocol/Multiprotocol Label Switching) and optical technology and services to Swiss electricity transmission system operator Swissgrid for the management of its electrical grid.
Bearing the title of the new "Grid Control Network," the network became operational in Switzerland earlier this year and provides monitoring and switching for the electricity transmission grid. It provides the foundation for Swissgrid to better align its power supply with demand with enhanced security and with a high level of reliability. In short, it will enable the utility to provide customers better service while simultaneously improving operational efficiency and effectiveness, and is a key part of next generation smart grid initiatives.
What did Nokia supply to Swissgrid? In a turnkey project, Nokia implemented two IP/MPLS -based networks, one an operational network and the other a business communications network. Mindful of all of the concerns about security and grid vulnerabilities from hackers, both networks were overlaid on an encrypted Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) and Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplex (CWDM) network.
The breadth of operations being addressed is comprehensive. The solution is supporting mission-critical operational services such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, Teleprotection, video surveillance via closed-circuit TV (CCTV), site access control and intrusion detection. The network is also enabling business communications between electricity substations and Swissgrid locations for tasks such as office local area network (LAN) and voice over IP (VoIP) in a highly secure way.
The "Grid Control Network" is being operated by Swissgrid from two mission-critical Grid Control Centers (data centers), which are interconnected through encrypted, redundant DWDM wavelength services.
A few facts from the implementation of the new networks include:
- Swissgrid's transmission grid has a length of 6,700 km covering 140 substations. The "Grid Control Network" additionally interconnects power plants, data centers and offices.
- When fully deployed in partner sites outside of Switzerland in 2016, the "Grid Control Network" will be the key element in the exchange of electricity between Swissgrid's network in Switzerland and sites in Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy and France.
- Through the new IP/MPLS overlay network, Swissgrid is benefitting from a high level of automation which is yielding new efficiencies. Power supply and demand can be matched exactly, and the network is highly available and secure.
- The IP/MPLS network features Nokia's 7705 Service Aggregation Router portfolio, with features tailored to support critical applications required by utilities as well as the 7750 Service Router portfolio.
- The xWDM network layer, based on the Nokia 1830 Photonic Service Switch, provides optical intrusion detection and on-the-fly low latency wavelength encryption for the operational and business communications network. This means that potential physical intrusions on the fiber cable can be detected and located. In case of an intrusion, sensitive data are nevertheless protected through embedded optical layer encryption (AES-256).
- On top of its IP/MPLS network equipment, Nokia provided professional services including network design, installation, commissioning and integration. Nokia will also provide maintenance services and support for seven years having started last year.
Patrick Langelaan, head of Global Enterprise & Public Sector, Central Europe, Nokia, said: "Our leadership in IP/MPLS and in agile optical networking allows us to deliver a robust, resilient and intelligent network for Swissgrid that will drive new efficiencies in their transmission network and meet the highest level of availability and security, which is essential in supporting smart grid applications."
The realities are that as utilities look to their future, they understand that in order to meet future service demands and achieve optimal operational efficiencies their communications networks are “mission critical” and need to be upgraded with a sense of urgency. Switzerland is just one of numerous examples worldwide of the recognition that upgrading their electrical infrastructure needs to go hand-in-glove with upgrading their communications.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi