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Private LTE ecosystem expands for Canada’s 1.8GHz utility spectrum

Phoenix, Arizona

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Ubiik, a leading provider of private LTE systems, and Electricity Canada, the national forum of Canadian Electric Utilities, announced today the successful creation of the first 1.8GHz pLTE ecosystem to support next generation utility telecom networks in Canada.

Built as a collaborative project between Ubiik, Electricity Canada and several semiconductor and Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) partners, Ubiik expects the continued expansion of the ecosystem to boost confidence among representatives from several Canadian electricity utilities to adopt secure and scalable LTE systems. Chipset vendors and module providers Sequans, GCT, Semtech (formerly Sierra Wireless) & Sony Semiconductor Israel (Sony) have all now committed support for the Electricity Canada band, with AMI vendor Itron also planning to build meters for this band.

Canadian Electrical Utilities have the sole right to use telecommunications in the 1800-1830 MHz band (1.8 GHz), however, without support from communications vendors, the spectrum has been under-utilized. Ubiik, as a corporate partner to Electricity Canada and working in collaboration with utilities in Canada, spearheaded the project to expand the ecosystem of products available for this band.  

The aim of the initiative was to ensure the spectrum could be fully utilized to benefit the utilities and citizens of Canada, in addition to enlarging market opportunities for all participating ecosystem partners.

“When we started working with Electricity Canada on the 1.8GHz band in October last year, there was no support for this band from LTE vendors,” says TH Peng, CEO at Ubiik. “To have 30MHz of spectrum allocated solely for utility use is the envy of utilities across the world.  We therefore made it our mission to create and strengthen the 1.8GHz ecosystem through collaborating with our industry partners.”

Historically, equipment vendors have not supported 1.8GHz due to the lack of designation as a standard 3GPP band and the perceived size of the Canadian utility telecom infrastructure market. However, in addition to regulatory drivers to ensure reliability of the grid, the requirement to rollout networks to support versatile edge applications, electric vehicles, renewables, battery storage, and smart meters for homes and businesses makes this spectrum central to the future of grid modernization in Canada.

“Developing products for the 1.8GHz band will enable Canadian utilities to more rapidly modernize their grid to support the escalating demand for electricity,” says Ty Roberts, Itron’s Vice President of Product Marketing for Networked Solutions. “Itron recognizes that the industry needs to work together to help utilities solve their challenges. The collaborative effort towards building the 1.8GHz ecosystem is an excellent example of how a shared goal can benefit everyone – vendors, utilities and, ultimately, end consumers.”

In addition to metering, Canadian utilities are expected to use the 1.8 GHz band for distribution automation, monitoring of generation and transmission facilities as well as communication between substations and operations centers.

“Semtech is excited to support Ubiik and Electricity Canada in the development of devices supporting the 1.8GHz spectrum,” says Michael Buonassisi, Director of LPWA modules at Semtech (formerly Sierra Wireless). “We have a long history of supporting the utilities segment with valuable solutions, and our family of HL78 LPWA modules, designed for security and improved risk management, is used globally by many leading device makers today. Adding 1.8GHz support to an already large list of supported frequencies will help enable the deployment of smart energy devices in Canada.”

"Supporting next generation utility networks is a key objective of Sequans and we are pleased to participate in this new 1.8 GHz private LTE ecosystem in Canada with partners Ubiik and Electricity Canada," said Olivier Pauzet, EVP Marketing and Strategy, Sequans. "Our Monarch 2 is already inside millions of smart meters around the world, and we are very pleased that it is now part of the Canadian pLTE ecosystem."

Offering the opportunity to bring greater visibility and control, communications networks deployed in the 1.8GHz band will enable utilities to better manage the challenge of balancing increasing renewable integration and IoT connectivity with the rising demand for a reliable electricity supply.

“Sony’s ALT1250 chipset enables reliable connectivity in the 1.8GHz to enable our customers with the flexibility to choose network providers in order to optimize their deployments” said Igor Tovberg, Director of Product Marketing at Sony Semiconductor Israel. “We look forward to working together with Electricity Canada and our partners Semtech and Ubiik to help building IoT networks that monitor millions of endpoints.”

In addition to securing partners to support 1.8GHz, Ubiik has continued progress with this band with the recent successful pLTE lab pilot in Vancouver.

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