In this article

Now, more than ever, utilities are struggling to figure out how to do more with less in a very secure and manageable way. From maximizing their investments in private cellular wireless networks to converging legacy systems onto a single IP-backbone, utilities are trying to find ways to increase their efficiency in the operation of their electrical grid, while also adding in more intelligent line sensors and devices that will help aid them in identifying outages, providing quicker restoration when needed and moving closer to a self-healing grid.

Companies are also turning to IoT and investigating AI solutions to optimize energy utilization and manage resources more efficiently. There is also a lot of enthusiasm behind accelerating the transition to cleaner energy through the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid, such as the inclusion of advanced battery storage technologies. Wind and solar energy will continue to be built and added into the electrical grid as clean sources of generation, offsetting the reliance on expensive coal or gas-powered plants. 

WWT's utilities practice works with hundreds of global industrial customers to help them tackle the most difficult of business challenges and arm them with the right tools and strategies for digitizing the infrastructure and thriving in this rapidly evolving industry. 

In addition to market research that supports our practice, our thought-leadership deploying the latest technologies is helping to propel the world's largest utilities companies to new heights. With deep expertise in designing and delivering comprehensive global utilities solutions, we've set apart three trends that will help drive this industry into a promising future. 

Trend 1: Massive expansion in cellular needs means billions invested private cellular solutions

Utilities are expecting cellular device counts to grow between 7 and 20x in the coming 10-20 years to connect a digital grid. For larger utility companies, the number of cellular devices amounts incrementally, and without a change to their cellular strategy, this could result in a 10x increase in operational expenses. Based on this notion, many of the largest utilities in the country are building their own cellular networks and all the rest are figuring out their strategy.

Trend 2: Next generation transport networks are taking shape

While most utilities are nearly done upgrading their old transport networks (TDM technology from the 90s) to MPLS, many are now looking forward to the next generation. Historically, SD-WAN wasn't of value to utilities because they own their own fiber, so they don't have large carrier MPLS costs. However, with growing need for things like roles-based access in the OT environment to enhance security while enabling broader digitization, SD-WAN is starting to take hold in the industry.

Trend 3: Regulation and funding in OT cyber

The new National Cybersecurity Strategy Infrastructure Law is driving increased spending on enhanced cybersecurity solutions. To remain in compliance, utilities are having to invest in people, products and processes related to protecting the grid from cyber threats, while they expand the digitization of that same environment. 

In closing

For utilities companies to come out of 2024 on top with ease, WWT supports everything from consulting services on the overall wireless connectivity strategy to implementation of the network and endpoints, including proof of concept and validation services in our labs or on premise.

As part of our ATC, the WWT Industry Solutions Center (WISC) serves as a major differentiator, with a combination of industrial systems and cybersecurity toolsets to allow customers to test full-stack solutions in real control system environments. In addition, WWT's growing OT Cybersecurity Services Team, including a broader set of partnerships in the space, allows us to support changes in strategy and processes through SOW-based work and strategic resourcing. In 2024, WWT's Cyber Range will extend to the OT environment, giving customers a collaborative environment to hone their skills and knowledge in cybersecurity. 

With WWT by your side, the future is yours.

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