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Oil & Gas Utilities & Renewables

July 28, 2023

Private Satellite Network: TSAT’s Game-Changing Solution For Utilities

Remote ‘off-grid’ utilities sites play a crucial role in bringing reliable power to remote and challenging regions. But ensuring seamless communication at these remote power utility sites is no easy task. While traditional mobile and fiber connections are a great solution in cities, they fall short when it comes to the unique communication challenges of off-grid locations such national parks, mountainous regions, and permanent, poorly inhabited, grasslands.

Most power utility and water management companies have around 10% of their sites located in ‘off-grid’ areas. These sites often lack reliable access to mobile networks and terrestrial fibre infrastructure, making it impractical and costly to use conventional connectivity solutions. To make matters more challenging, these remote sites might be in environmentally sensitive areas or rough terrains, making it even harder to set up extensive communication networks.

In such situations, getting customer data back from these sites requires innovative solutions that go beyond the typical terrestrial and cellular options. It’s also crucial to distinguish between customer data backhaul and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and telemetry data backhaul. Mixing the two could lead to serious cybersecurity issues, which is why a specialized solution designed exclusively for SCADA and telemetry data is essential.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the main data connectivity and backhaul challenges faced by remote power utility providers. Additionally, we’ll discuss how TSAT offers a reliable and robust communication solution specifically tailored to meet the unique requirements of these remote power utility sites.

How TSAT overcomes the key data challenges for power utilities

1. Instant communication infrastructure

Remote areas often lack reliable communication infrastructure, such as wired internet or cellular networks. TSAT utilizes satellite communication to overcome this limitation, ensuring that data can be transmitted to and from the remote sites even in areas with no or limited terrestrial connectivity.

2. Real-time monitoring and control

Remote power utility sites might be unmanned or difficult to access regularly due to their remote site situation, but any downtime or loss of energy production can be costly. TSAT enables real-time monitoring and control of critical assets, such as generators, switchgear, and substations, from a central control center, allowing operators to respond quickly to any issues or anomalies, optimising power output and maximizing power generation.

3. Enhanced grid reliability

By continuously monitoring the remote power sites, TSAT helps identify potential problems and weaknesses in the grid, as they occur in real-time, enabling proactive maintenance and repairs. This proactive approach enhances overall grid reliability and minimises the risk of large-scale outages. Satellite is also highly reliable and unlike terrestrial and fiber, is unaffected by coverage, weather events and ground infrastructure.

4. Robustness against extreme weather events

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction reports that over the last 20 years, there has been a “staggering rise” in the number of extreme weather events. Floods, fires, storms and earthquakes, all risk the stability, reliability and telemetry data delivery of sites reliant on cellular and fiber. As TSAT is satellite-based, connectivity is much more reliable and stable.

5. Highly secure

Cyber-attacks are on the rise around the world and utility powerhouses have been targets. TSAT ensures encrypted and authenticated data transmission between remote power sites and the central control center. The dedicated satellite network provides a private and isolated communication channel, safeguarding against cyber threats and unauthorized access; making for a trusted and effective solution for power utilities’ communication needs in remote locations.


A detailed look at TSAT

TSAT offers a narrowband private satellite network that provides an ideal solution for monitoring and controlling smart power grids in even the most remote locations. Power utilities in the UK can now benefit from this cost-effective and reliable platform, connecting distant assets to crucial utility applications like SCADA transmission, telemetry, and M2M, all within a secure network.

Designed to accommodate the needs of both small and medium-sized networks, TSAT boasts scalability with lower operating costs compared to installing and maintaining fiber connectivity. It supports both IP and legacy serial devices and operates independently from terrestrial communication systems. This not only complements existing terrestrial networks but also offers an alternative solution, ensuring continuous transmission at all times.

The hardware is purpose-built to withstand harsh environments, providing years of reliable operation, making it the most robust choice in adverse weather conditions, unlike mobile and fiber alternatives. Additionally, TSAT adheres to the IEC-61850 global standard for utility and industrial communication and automation, ensuring seamless integration with existing systems.

Through rigorous testing, Ground Control solutions have received certifications in the Worldwide Industrial Telemetry Standards (WITS) DNP3 protocol, setting the global standard for utility industry telemetry control and monitoring requirements. This ensures interoperability between equipment from different manufacturers, guaranteeing a smooth and efficient power utility system.


Save costs and be secure

The equivalent statistic for Euros regarding the average cost of laying fiber can be found in the United States Department of Transportation’s “Fiber Optic Installation Cost Survey” report. According to the report, the average cost of laying fiber is estimated to be around €23,000 per kilometer. Additionally, there’s the ongoing expense of sending experienced Field Engineers to manage installations and maintenance. Over a 10-year hardware lifespan, this this total is significant.

TSAT offers a practical solution to mitigate these costs almost entirely, as its terminal can be remotely managed. This means no more costly truck rolls, and with TSAT being always-on and relaying data in real-time, prompt and guaranteed servicing is assured.

The TSAT HUB stands out as the most cost-effective VSAT HUB available. By efficiently utilizing the satellite spectrum and tailoring satellite bandwidth to meet specific application needs, annual communication expenses are significantly reduced. This makes TSAT an ideal primary or backup option for existing terrestrial communications, providing reliable and affordable connectivity for remote utility sites.

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Unlock the potential of your data

With over 40 years of combined knowledge of satellite experience, the Ground Control team is well placed to help keep you connected when it matters the most with complete satellite connectivity solutions for any situation and application.

Whatever your communication or connectivity needs, we can help.