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Summit Addresses Importance of Private Broadband for Grid Modernization

The UBBA’s first annual summit underscores the value of private broadband networks as a key enabler of the utility of the future, urges industry to band together to realize the opportunity.

In support of America’s transforming critical infrastructure, the Utility Broadband Alliance (UBBA) has been advancing and developing private long-term evolution (LTE) broadband as a key communications infrastructure for a secure, resilient, digital grid. UBBA founding member Southern Linc hosted the UBBA’s first annual summit in Birmingham, Alabama early October, where utility executives, industry technology leaders along with representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Edison Electric Institute (EEI), and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) explored key challenges facing electric utilities and examined private broadband networks as a critical element of the transforming grid.

The highly anticipated and widely attended two-day event was held at Southern Co.’s Alabama Power facility. UBBA utility and multivendor members along with other participants gathered to discuss topics ranging from resiliency and cybersecurity in the digital utility grid of the future to a review of the various broadband spectrum options and vendor technologies that can aid in solving the challenges utility communication networks face today.

The summit also included tours of Southern Linc’s private utility LTE deployment where attendees were able to see numerous critical use cases in operation. Southern Linc President and CEO Tami Barron served as keynote speaker for the event and highlighted the importance of the UBBA’s private broadband mission while sharing lessons learned.

“Grid modernization and communications networks are in lockstep; one cannot happen without the other. Private wireless broadband is a key component of this strategy, providing the security and resiliency our networks need. We believe in sharing best practices across all service territories in order to facilitate the development of this critical piece of infrastructure,” said Barron.

Bobbi Harris, the UBBA’s director of member engagement and operations, commented, “It was an incredible opportunity to have utility executives, government thought leaders, and industry technology experts together at the UBBA’s first member event discussing the role private broadband networks can play in helping to secure and strengthen our nation’s electric grid. The UBBA was created solely for this purpose, to drive scale and innovation for the utility industry, and we are just getting started.”

The UBBA is a hub of information sharing, collaboration, and planning to advance private broadband wireless connectivity for an increasingly interconnected and distributed grid. It is focused on bringing utilities leaders and innovative vendors together to educate on the role private broadband networks play as a key enabler of the utility of the future.

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