Home5GElectric utility Evergy deploys Ericsson-made private LTE across Kansas, Missouri

Electric utility Evergy deploys Ericsson-made private LTE across Kansas, Missouri

Swedish vendor Ericsson has completed the rollout of a private LTE network for regional US electric utility Evergy, covering 20 cell sites in Kansas and Missouri. Locally-headquartered engineering consultancy Burns & McDonnell has been engaged, also, on the new network’s design and build, and was part of the committee to select Ericsson in the first place. The project’s start-date was accelerated by six months, to May 2022, within two months of the appointment of Ericsson and Burns & McDonnell.

Investor-owned Evergy is the largest electric company in Kansas, serving more than 1.6 million residential and commercial customers in the states of both Kansas and Missouri. It owns 40-odd power plants, and provides service across about 73,000 square kilometres of east Kansas and west Missouri. The new private LTE installation, with both radio access (RAN) and core network components from Ericsson, is to enable grid modernization, said Ericsson.

The new network is upgradeable to 5G. There is no word in the Ericsson statement on spectrum, but Evergy signed an agreement last September to licence the 900 MHz band from rights-holder Anterix, which is targeting the utilities market. The long-term lease with Anterix, for 20 years, covers Evergy’s entire service territory in Kansas and Missouri. Anterix has parallel deals with Ameren and San Diego Gas & Electric, at least.

It is unclear whether the new network from Ericsson, a signed-up supplier on Anterix’s books, will make use of standard CBRS spectrum, at 3.55-3.7 GHz, alongside.  A statement from the Swedish firm said: “The project [has] created one unified network capable of supporting an array of both known and future-focused use cases to modernize the grid, increasing reliability and safety while decreasing latency for mission-critical applications.”

Ericsson listed candidate use cases to go on LTE, including: “decarbonization of the grid, engineering access, fault circuit indicators, line regulators, and advanced metering infrastructure solutions”.

Gary Johnson, director of IT infrastructure and security at Evergy, said: “By building a private LTE network we have a more secure and reliable means of transmitting grid data into our back-office systems for processing. Burns & McDonald has been heavily involved from the initial design work and Ericsson has been a critical partner in the deployment of its RAN technology.”

Per Wahlen, vice president and head of business development at Ericsson in North America, said: “We’ve deployed and operated secure mission-critical network solutions for both investor-owned utilities and rural municipal utilities across North America. Evergy in partnership with Burns & McDonnell chose Ericsson… for our ability to deliver against aggressive timelines, our technology leadership, meeting capital efficiency KPIs, and [pur] focus on security and safety.”

Matt Olson, vice president at Burns & McDonnell, said: “The close collaboration among all parties is what made it possible to complete this project so quickly. We all came together with creative ideas to strengthen the entire effort, giving Evergy a vital, powerful network that will help its communities for years to come.”

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