Alcatel-Lucent Urges Power Companies to Plan Transitions as TDM Networks Sunset

Next Generation Communications Blog

Alcatel-Lucent Urges Power Companies to Plan Transitions as TDM Networks Sunset

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

It’s monsoon season here in Arizona, so we desert dwellers know as much as anybody about the power of a storm. We also understand the problems that storms can create, such as taking out the power.

However, natural occurrences like storms and other unexpected events like power line cuts by backhoes aren’t the only external challenges with which power utilities have to contend. In a recent blog Dave Christophe, Director of Utilities Marketing at Alcatel-Lucent, explained that there’s now an additional consideration that could negatively impact power company abilities to bring people and businesses power consistently, cost effectively, and safely. That is the systematic decommissioning of legacy telephone and data networks.

Sun setting analog, frame relay, and TDM networks, Christophe explains, eliminates the communications infrastructure on which power utilities have long relied to transmit data from substations and do teleprotection, as just a couple examples.

Christophe in his piece references a recent article by his colleague Mark Madden, Vice President of North American Utilities at Alcatel-Lucent, in which the latter notes the risks of such sun setting and offers tips on steps utilities should take to avoid any interruption in the networks on which they rely – and thus in their power infrastructure and services overall. Madden also provides an example of what the transition away from legacy communications networks could lead to if not managed properly.

The example involves a regional utility that depends upon circuit-switched and frame relay technologies to support dynamic line rating sensors that track the characteristics of high-voltage transmission lines, including heat load and sagging.

“Imagine that the carrier that provided their circuit-switched and frame relay network –which, although outdated, were reliable – suddenly served notice that they planned to shut down the service within 120 days,” writes Madden. “This might sound extreme, but it is a realistic scenario. Required notice periods in many parts of the country are very short.”

To avoid getting into such a pinch, Christophe and Madden urge utilities to develop plans to transition from legacy to newer communications services and technologies.

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