The low power wide area network (LPWAN) technologies, which is now embracing a booming era with the development in the Internet of Things (IoT), may offer a brand new solution for current smart grid communications due to their excellent features of low power, long range, and high capacity. The mission-critical smart grid communications require secure and reliable connections between the utilities and the devices with high quality of service (QoS). This is difficult to achieve for unlicensed LPWAN technologies due to the crowded license-free band. Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), as a licensed LPWAN technology, is developed based on the existing long-term evolution specifications and facilities. Thus, it is able to provide cellular-level QoS, and henceforth can be viewed as a promising candidate for smart grid communications. In this paper, we introduce NB-IoT to the smart grid and compare it with the existing representative communication technologies in the context of smart grid communications in terms of data rate, latency, range, etc. The overall requirements of communications in the smart grid from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives are comprehensively investigated and each of them is carefully examined for NB-IoT. We further explore the representative applications in the smart grid and analyze the corresponding feasibility of NB-IoT. Moreover, the performance of NB-IoT in typical scenarios of the smart grid communication environments, such as urban and rural areas, is carefully evaluated via Monte Carlo simulations.
- Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)
- communication technologies
- low power wide area network (LPWAN)
- narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT)
- smart grid