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Industry Insights: A Post-Anterix Event Recap

Anterix – a telecom operations company that is now the largest holder of licensed, 900 MHz spectrum in the U.S. – held one of its Industry Insights webinars on the development of a multi-band LTE communications module that is helping to modernize private LTE (PLTE) networks. I was privileged to participate in the session, along with other panelists from members of the Anterix Active Ecosystem program which included GE Vernova, 4RF, and RAD. These three vendors are collaborating with Anterix and Sequans on collaborating on the development and manufacturing of the LTE Cat-4 module, which will be integrated into the GE product line to provide North American utilities with a flexible, high-performance, and cost-effective solution for their critical PLTE infrastructure.  

So, what is the LTE Cat-4 module?
The session started off with an overview of the features of the new module before going into the benefits and a discussion on how this solution will help accelerate the PLTE device ecosystem. In short, the module has the capability of combining 900 MHz, CBRS, and common public carrier bands, giving a utility flexible deployment options. What this means is that it could run on public networks such as AT&T or Verizon, as well as private networks, namely Anterix and CBRS.

When you think of how “smart” and connected our world has become – from our phones to electric vehicles, to modernized power grids, there is a growing need to capture information in real time for optimal decision-making and control. This drives the need for high-speed PLTE networks and easy-to-deploy and flexible solutions that this module enables.

Accelerating advancements
As we face the grid of the future, better connectivity and coverage is essential. For example, a utility needs to be able to adequately provision for increasing use cases including electrical vehicle charging and distributed generation (like solar and wind). But there are additional reasons for utilities opting to choose private LTE. With growing cybersecurity attacks and adverse weather events, better resilience is critical. Users want a network that is in their control, while having access to public networks in the event of a failover. Proprietary solutions aren’t the go-to anymore – they want something that’s supported universally by the industry.

Sustainable, secure, flexible, resilient, and reliable – these are the key words when discussing critical infrastructure networks. Utilities are increasingly considering PLTE as a technology choice for their future private networks. They want solutions that provide the flexibility of deploying multiple spectrum options in a cost-effective manner across their service territories. This need is driving vendors like GE Vernova to offer a single SKU that can utilize both Anterix 900MHz and CBRS spectrum choices. And these are all important ingredients in the development of the Cat-4 module. And in addition to being standards-based technology, customers are getting an added layer of validation being backed by the Anterix Active Ecosystem. As the grid gets modernized, this module is allowing us to support utilities in accelerating the advancement of highly optimized, resilient, and reliable networks.

Teamwork makes the dream work
Value chains are extraordinarily complex, so it helps to have partners and vendors across the ecosystem. Most recently, the pandemic highlighted a number of supply chain issues, and in many ways, new ways of doing business. This drove customers to look for increased supply chain diversity, with various vendors supplying redundant and compatible offerings. I applaud the Anterix Active Ecosystem for taking the lead for the utility community and vendors to collaborate and help finance the effort of the development of the module to be refined by different vendors in their individual product offerings, and at a higher level, to help modernize LTE networks.

What’s next?
The future remains incredibly difficult to predict. If recent events are any indication, we will continue to face unprecedented challenges. We don’t know what’s ahead of us, but we are seeing an uptick in the adoption of private LTE from utilities and the solutions GE Vernova is working on let us put resiliency, reliability, security, and sustainability at the top of the list.

For more information, watch the full webinar here.

About the Author

Chris has 25 years of experience in the communications industry with a focus on wireless and optical technologies across the electric utility, oil and gas, and industrial markets. He began his career as a manufacturing engineer before transitioning to program management and then held various leadership roles in engineering and product management. More recently, he was the product line leader for Critical Infrastructure Communications. Currently, Chris is the Senior Business Management Staff Manager responsible the business development and technology coordination for the Asset Monitoring and Communications division within GE Vernova’s Grid Automation. Chris has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University.

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