Smart grid powered by 5G SA network slicing

Photo: Huawei, China Telecom and the State Grid Corporation of China worked together on a 5G network slicing project.

As a typical example of the vertical industry, smart grid poses new challenges to communications networks. The diversity of power grid services requires a flexible and orchestrated network, high reliability requires isolated networks, and millisecond-level ultra-low latency requires networks with optimal capabilities. 5G network slicing can address and meet all these diversified network connection requirements. The 5G SA networking slicing based smart grid innovation project has been proven as a valuable reference for the cooperation among global operators and enterprises in the 5G era.

Smart grids are the basic guarantee of smart energy and the important material basis for promoting economic and social coordination and sustainable development in China. In the last 5 km of the power distribution and consumption section, building a terminal access network to implement communication and control of numerous power terminals is the key to implementing smart grids.

5G network slicing is an ideal choice to enable smart grid services. It divides the 5G network into logically isolated networks, where each one could be seen as a slice. 5G network slicing allows the power grid to flexibly customize specific slices with different network functions and different service level agreement (SLA) assurances according to the different requirements of the various services on a power grid.

China Telecom, State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), and Huawei have jointly initiated the 5G SA-based electric power slicing innovation project, and conducted beneficial exploration in terms of technical feasibility, commercial feasibility, application scenarios, and ecosystem construction.

5G network slicing has rich features. Generally, a network slice is a tenant-oriented virtual network, one that meets differentiated SLA requirements and can be managed independently in terms of the life cycle. 5G network slicing is designed to handle specific service requirements, meet differentiated SLA requirements, and automatically build isolated network instances on demand. 5G network slicing provides E2E (End-to-end) network assurance for SLAs, service isolation, on-demand network function customization, and automation.

In April 2019, China Telecom, SGCC and Huawei jointly completed the world's first power slice that complies with the latest 5G SA standards of 3GPP. Following this, in June 2019, the three parties jointly released the industry's first 5G power slice commercial feasibility analysis report. Practice has proved that 5G network slicing can meet the requirements of wide coverage, low latency, high bandwidth, high reliability, high security, and differentiated network capabilities of terminal access networks. Compared with optical fibers, 5G network slicing is cheaper and easier to deploy, helping electric power enterprises greatly reduce the operating expense (OPEX) of power communications networks and bring good return on investment for operators, providing a valuable reference for global operators and enterprises to carry out 5G cooperation.

Since August 2019, China Telecom Shandong, State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC)Shandong Power Supply Company, China Telecom Research Institute, and Huawei have jointly launched a 5G + Smart Grid project in Qingdao. Based on 5G SA architecture, more than 30 5G base stations and 2 sets of Power Grid dedicated MEC have been deployed to form China's largest 5G Smart Grid experimental network, and conducted a series of multi-scenario 5G Network Slicing-based field tests. The 5G Network Slicing-based substation power distribution sensing system was deployed to provide 5G + power protection services for the 2019 Qingdao Multinationals Summit. The industry's first field test of 5G Network Slicing-based smart distributed FA and longitudinal differential protection services was also completed.

The projects involve end-to-end industry partners in the power industry jointly promoting the development of 5G smart grid. Partners include power industry enterprise (SGCC), power terminal and application enterprises (NARI and Jiangsu FangTian), and industry research institutes (Global Energy Internet Research Institute and Electric Power Research Institute of Jiangsu).

By leveraging industry organizations such as 5GSA, 5GACIA, IMT2020 (5G), CRGE, the projects have successfully brought an important consensus to the industry that Network Slicing and MEC are key technologies for the success of 5G smart grid. The whole industry should increase the emphasis and investment in the two technologies.

This 5G smart grid innovation project has been proven to be a valuable reference point for cooperation among global operators and enterprises in the 5G era.



Listen to representatives from Huawei, China Telecom and the State Grid Corporation of China discuss how network slicing can power smart grid developments at the Network Automation Webinar - participate live from 10am on 22 April, or listen on demand afterwards. Register for the webinar here