US power firm Ameren takes 900 MHz licence for private LTE network
US electricity and gas utility Ameren is to deploy a private LTE network in the 900 MHz band for customers in Missouri and Illinois. It is the first licence to be granted in the spectrum band by private networking firm Anterix, which holds the largest share of 900 MHz spectrum in the US.
In May, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved usage of the 900 MHz band in the US for private LTE and 5G networking by energy companies, in response to a long-standing request by Anterix to open the 900 MHz band for private cellular. Anterix had been buoyed in its mission by spectrum liberalisation in a number of markets, most notably around the 3.55-3.7 GHz CBRS band in the US.
Anterix holds 900 MHz spectrum in the mainland US, as well as in Hawaii and Alaska, and also in Puerto Rico. Its goal is to license 900 MHz spectrum and supply 900 MHz solutions to the utility sector to drive grid modernisation, supporting the integration of renewable energy sources, and other innovations.
The new spectrum lease agreement with St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation, which claims 2.4 million electric customers and 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area in Missouri and Illinois, was announced before Christmas; it is Anterix’s first, and covers Ameren for a period of 30 years.
Ameren had signed a letter-of-intent with Anterix for the long-term 900 MHz lease in Missouri and Illinois ahead of the FCC decision last May, on the back of multiple use-case pilots, according to the pair. Anterix said Ameren was an “early advocate for regulatory changes” to enable broadband services in the band.
Both companies are founding members of the Utility Broadband Alliance, which has a mission statement to “assist members in planning, designing and deploying secure, reliable and resilient private broadband networks to support America’s transforming critical infrastructure. Anterix said it is working with “numerous additional utilities” to explore 900 MHz private LTE opportunities.”
Rob Schwartz, president and chief executive at Anterix, said the deal “officially launches the utility industry’s capturing of the tremendous benefits of 900 MHz private LTE”.
He commented: “As Anterix continues to collaborate with the fantastic team at Ameren to help achieve their broadband vision beyond these milestone agreements, we believe this partnership will also drive the utility sector’s collective adoption of 900 MHz private LTE.”
Bhavani Amirthalingam, senior vice president and chief digital information officer at Ameren, saidd: “We see 900 MHz private LTE as a vital component of our digitization strategy to support a wide range of benefits to Ameren and its customers, allowing for the eventual consolidation of over 20 of our legacy networks onto one platform.
“Anterix has been a valuable partner in our pursuit of the critical communications layer of our digital grid. Over the next several decades, this private LTE network will advance the reliability and security of the electric grid through a range of broadband-enabled applications and services, including the integration of distributed energy resources to help us meet our net-zero carbon emissions goal by 2050.”