UTC survey shows 60 percent of utilities use satellite communications
In-depth analysis of satellite usage in the utility industry offers perspective on the benefits of satellite and misconceptions about latency and cost.
Herndon, Va.—VT iDirect Inc. (iDirect), a company of VT Systems Inc. (VT Systems), and the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) have released the results of a new study on satellite communications in the utility industry. The study, Strategic Assessment of Satellite Usage in the Utility Industry, was conducted to gain a better understanding of how satellite communications is currently used in the utility industry and to better articulate the benefits of modern VSAT systems. iDirect is a world leader in satellite-based IP communications technology.
Among the key findings were that 60 percent of utilities surveyed are already using some form of satellite communications technology. Of those not currently using satellite, 22 percent are planning to integrate the technology in the next two years. The study also revealed some misconceptions about satellite communications based on outdated technology, as well as a growing desire among utilities to learn more about advances in satellite technology.
The study, which was sponsored by iDirect, measured perceptions and usage trends relating to satellite communications through a focus group of top industry telecommunications technologists and through a survey of UTC’s utility members, which comprised 100 completed responses from top communications decision-making technologists at 71 utilities.
• The top benefit of satellite technology was cited as ubiquitous coverage. This was also the top benefit for commercial wireless services, but for security and management reasons, many utilities prefer the private networking capabilities of satellite over using a public wireless network.
• Satellite is most frequently used for back-up voice communications with SCADA and substation automation a close second.
• Misconceptions around high latency and high cost are two barriers to implementation for satellite communications, but these perceptions are likely based on experiences with legacy satellite technology. The study showed that the vast majority (78 percent) of utilities are interested in learning more about modern VSAT systems.
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