Nokia today introduced the 7705 SAR-Hm, an LTE/3G wireless router that is designed to be used with modernizing distribution networks for utilities, as well as smart-cities and public-safety applications.

This new wireless router—deployable in a fixed outdoor location or in a vehicle—can help utilities and other critical-communications enterprises extend intelligence throughout their networks, according to Fai Lam, director of product marketing for Nokia. Many utilities have adequate bandwidth to substations via various technologies—from wireline copper to microwave—but such connectivity often is not available throughout service territories, he said.

“Utilities today are deploying smart-grid technologies, but [deploying] smart grid is not possible without communications—in particular, connectivity in the distribution grid is lacking,” Lam said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Many devices are not connected today, and utilities are not able to realize the better automation and monitoring that they need.

“The opportunity here is to expand the IP/MPLS networking beyond the substation and out to the field devices. A lot of utilities cannot practically lay fiber everywhere, so we’re leveraging our expertise in LTE to provide a wireless solution.”

Deploying 7705 SAR-Hm wireless routers can help utilities reach this desired level of connectivity, Lam said. The router is a “key component” of the private LTE solutions that AT&T and Nokia are offering to utilities, he said.

The new offering also promises to help utilities realize the full benefits of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, Lam said.

“Now, what we’re doing is to extend that IP/MPLS benefit from the wide-area network wirelessly out to the distribution grid. This allows the utility to have end-to-end IP/MPLS services and also the network and services management capabilities end to end, as well. This would allow them to more easily scale the network and manage—in some utilities—tens of thousands of network nodes that they will be deploying.”

Some utilities already deploy low-bandwidth IoT solutions, but the 7705 SAR-Hm wireless router offering demonstrates that Nokia is “focusing more on those IoT applications that are requiring more constant connectivity and higher bandwidth rather than some of the other low-bandwidth IoT applications.”

Melvin Sam Charuvilayil, Kansas City Power and Light’s supervisor of IT network planning and engineering, expressed excitement about the new Nokia wireless router.

“Adding LTE and other wireless capabilities to the proven 7705 platform provides compelling new choices for utilities looking to extend the reach of their connectivity to modernize grid operations,” Charuvilayil said in a prepared statement.