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Revolutionizing Utilities: The Power of Private LTE in the 900 MHz Spectrum
[May 17, 2023]

Revolutionizing Utilities: The Power of Private LTE in the 900 MHz Spectrum

TMCnet News

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), a significant public power provider in Texas, has recently announced it is deploying a 900 MHz private LTE (News - Alert) wireless broadband network supported by its partnership with Anterix.

The proliferation of digital technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) in the industrial and utilities sectors has necessitated robust, reliable, and secure communication systems. Private wireless networks, operating in licensed spectrums such as the 900 MHz range, have emerged as critical components of this digital revolution.

The 900 MHz spectrum is beneficial for because it provides excellent penetration and extensive geographic coverage, making it ideal for utilities, especially in remote and challenging terrain. The move from narrowband to broadband in this spectrum further enhances data capacity and speeds, enabling efficient transfer of mission-critical data.

Utility companies are also realizing the benefits of private LTE networks, as demonstrated by the LCRA's recent decision to acquire 900 MHz broadband licenses from Anterix. Private LTE networks also offer a variety of advantages, including improved network performance, enhanced security, and increased operational efficiency.

According to Ken Price, LCRA's chief operating officer, the new network will significantly improve LCRA's data transmission, overall communication capabilities, and resilience. Moreover, it will provide numerous upgrades that will benefit both LCRA and its customers, who include electric cooperatives, schools, and transit authorities across more than 73,000 square miles.

Anterix, as the largest holder of licensed spectrum in the 900 MHz band, plays a key role in facilitating this transition. The company's focus on delivering transformative private broadband is empowering critical infrastructure modernization across various sectors. Its partnership with LCRA underscores the broad applicability of private LTE, extending beyond the investor-owned electric utility space.

Rob Schwartz, Anterix' president and CEO, says as much:  "Not only does this agreement clear another 'complex system,' but it also adds a new type of customer to our nationwide network of utility networks, as LCRA is a public power generation and transmission utility that is also a water management utility. This agreement highlights the benefits of private LTE beyond the investor-owned electric utility space that has thus far been the major focus of Anterix's efforts." 

Private LTE networks offer utility companies the chance to control their own communications infrastructure, significantly reducing reliance on public networks. This, in turn, results in lower latency and greater reliability, particularly in areas where public network coverage may be patchy or unreliable. With a dedicated private LTE network, utilities can ensure reliable communication even in the most challenging conditions - essential for maintaining operations and minimizing downtime.

Private LTE networks can be configured to meet specific operational needs, offering greater flexibility and scalability compared to traditional communication methods. This enables utilities to adapt their network as their needs evolve, ensuring they are always operating at peak efficiency.

Private LTE networks are also highly secure. By owning and managing their own network, utilities can enforce stringent security protocols, reducing the risk of data breaches and ensuring the integrity of their systems - critical in today's attack-laden world.

LCRA has recognized these benefits and is positioning itself at the forefront of this technological shift. As a significant public power provider, LCRA oversees a large, complex infrastructure, requiring efficient and reliable communication. With the new private LTE network, the LCRA will be able to improve data transmission, enhance its overall communication capabilities, and increase resilience.

The deal also signifies the broader trend of increasing deployment of private wireless networks in the utilities sector. As more utilities recognize the potential for increased operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness, the demand for private wireless networks is expected to rise.

LCRA's move to establish a 900 MHz private wireless network is part of a new era for utilities and industrial sectors. As these industries continue to digitize and modernize, robust, reliable, and secure communication infrastructure, like private LTE networks, will be critical to success.

Edited by Erik Linask

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