January 30, 2020
Private LTE for Utilities: Key requirements for your Private LTE transport network
The evolution of applications, services and demands on private broadband networks are creating new requirements for coverage and agility, which will require a new breed of transport for backhaul. The backhaul network must be smarter, simpler and more cost effective to be able to handle the challenge of connecting any device, anywhere.
Interconnecting critical IoT devices require spectrum agility, bandwidth scalability, and hardened security capabilities and while these are critical for network performance and functionality, the backhaul network is even more critical.
A great example of this impact is for utility networks. Utility companies are under constant pressure to operate the most reliable and secure networks possible. At the same time, they’re tasked with keeping their costs low and maintaining reasonable subscription fees for their users.
Microwave can easily meet the network reliability, security, and performance requirements of Private LTE networks, all while having the least CAPEX and OPEX when comparing it to other infrastructure solutions, such as fiber or leased lines.
Because of the critical nature of the traffic carried by Private LTE, it’s essential that utilities also build private transport networks. Private transport networks ensure maximum control and uptime for critical Private LTE services.
Private LTE places 3 key requirements on the transport network:
Like public safety networks, utility networks are built for maximum uptime. It begins with a resilient network topology—such as a ring or mesh network—designed to eliminate outages resulting from single link failures. But microwave solutions for mission-critical applications offer even greater reliability. They’re typically built with hardware, link, and network redundancy, link propagation protection, and a range of best practices in network design, path engineering, installation, and network monitoring.Redundancy architectures and engineering practices have been fine-tuned in mission-critical applications for decades, making microwave networks measurably superior to fiber or leased-line networks in reliability.The traffic carried over private broadband networks is considered critical communications, so network reliability is a key requirement and the network must maintain a 99.9995% to 99.9999% reliability objective.
When utility traffic passes over a third-party network, the risk of attack or performance degradation is real. Hardening mitigates the risk by keeping traffic inside the network and giving users the ability to shape their own QoS policies.To secure networks against hacker practices such as eavesdropping or message replay, our Private LTE solutions are equipped with payload encryption. For cyber-security protection, microwave network elements are also equipped with strong security suites. Standards such as FIPS-197 (for payload encryption) and FIPS 140-2 (for cybersecurity) give microwave elements protection like those in non-wireless equipment deployed in utility networks.Part of the security requirement deals with who owns and controls the infrastructure. An LTE network, including the transport, owned and operated by a utility will be less vulnerable to outside attacks than leased lines or services.
Private LTE means broadband speeds – 10MHz of LTE spectrum can mean 100’s of Mbps or even Gbps of bandwidth to transport.Gigabit speeds can enable transport of large amounts of security video, enable utilities to make fast firmware changes to fix security problems in their smart meter systems, and connect a huge number of IoT devices.Wireless transport can meet the most stringent capacity demands of LTE. 10-20Gbps transport is possible over wireless today all with the ultra-high reliability microwave systems have been known for. In fact, Aviat is pioneering new technology, called multi-band – which is a combo microwave and millimeter wave solution in a single box over a single antenna. This technology enables the capacity of e-band and the reliability or microwave in a single solution.It’s an ideal technology for the advanced services that Private LTE makes possible and offers operators significantly lower total cost of ownership compared to solutions that use multiple units at each end of a link.