Utility giant Xcel Energy to test private LTE network with Motorola Solutions
Xcel Energy – a massive gas and electricity provider across Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin – said it plans to test a private wireless LTE network in the 900MHz spectrum band using equipment from Motorola Solutions.
The news serves to yet again underscore utilities’ interest in building their own private wireless networks, including those using LTE technologies. The topic has grown into a major issue for wireless network operators hoping to sell products and services into the sector, as well as equipment vendors hoping to expand their customer base beyond standard commercial mobile network operators like AT&T and Verizon.
Indeed, Ericsson just Friday announced its $1.1 billion plan to purchase Cradlepoint, a US company that sells wireless products, including private LTE networks, to businesses ranging from retail to transportation.
“Xcel Energy is exploring the use of 900MHz LTE networks for various applications in support of its affiliates’ electric and gas utility operations,” the company wrote in a recent FCC filing requesting permission to conduct the tests. “These applications include Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) backhaul, SCADA, Distribution Automation (DA), and LMR to LTE Mission Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) convergence.”
The company said it hopes to use a 3X3MHz allocation in the 900MHz band owned by startup Anterix for the tests, which it wants to conduct in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties in Minnesota.
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