Nokia plans private LTE smart grid network for Brazil energy company

19 October 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Nokia is building a private LTE network that will connect 75,000 customers of a Brazilian energy company, Elektro.

The network – said to be the first private LTE deployment in Brazil – will run on the 3,500MHz band, one of the favourite parts of the spectrum for future 5G services.

Elektro – which is part of the Neoenergia/Iberdrola energy group – will use the network to connect smart meters and other equipment by more than 75,000 customers in the city of Atibaia and other parts of the Brazilian state of São Paulo.

Mario Ruiz-Tagle, president of Neoenergia, said: “The project in Atibaia is a pioneering effort here in Brazil, and will deliver increased power efficiency to bring both increased quality and cost savings to our customers.”

He added: “This deployment will enable the introduction of distributed power resources in the future, such as photovoltaic generation and electric vehicles, while providing the required communications for our transformation to new business models.”

Iberdrola, based in Bilbao in the Basque country, is a multinational energy group that includes Scottish Power in the UK and Avangrid in the north-east US.

The Brazilian smart grid project will reduce costs by increasing grid reliability by up to 50%, said Nokia, and by reducing commercial losses by up to 80%.

Osvaldo Di Campli, head of Nokia in Latin America, said: “This private LTE deployment will provide the large-scale connectivity, extensive coverage and high-bandwidth service needed for Elektro to extend the reach of its network out into their distribution grid, making the grid much smarter.”

Nokia has been a strong advocate of private LTE networks for corporate use, outside the reach of regular telecoms providers, especially as market growth for public 4G networks is slowing down.

The 3,500MHz spectrum is being touted as a home for internet of things (IoT) services in the 5G mobile era. Last month Matthias Kurth, the former head of the German regulator, told a conference in Munich that Germany wants to reserve 100MHz of spectrum in the 3,500MHz band to share among industrial companies.

Nokia’s Di Campli said: “This future-proof solution will also provide an evolution path to 5G technology in the future, which will offer an array of additional capabilities to keep pace with the fast-evolving utility market.”

Nokia said that the 3,500MHz network in Brazil will provide business-critical connectivity for grid equipment, smart meters, substations and distributed energy generation sources throughout the service area, enabling grid automation through real-time exchange of information between these devices and Elektro's operations centre in Campinas.

Nokia will supply the radio network for the project, including base stations and customer premises equipment. It will deliver and manage the end-to-end private LTE solution including network design, deployment, integration, assisted operation, maintenance, construction and training for Elektro.