Operating Communication System
The CNFL, as a leading company in the electricity sector in the region, continues to strengthen and innovate its processes with the objective of providing a high quality service to its customers. For this reason, a strategy has been developed for the implementation of intelligent electricity networks, known in the field as Smart Grid.
This transformation of electrical networks also implies a transformation of conventional communication networks in order to adapt them to support not only the services of traditional information technologies, but the new requirements of operational technologies, which are expected to grow from exponentially over the next three years. Such is the case of the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI: Advanced metering infrastructure) and distribution control (ADMS: Advanced Distribution Management System) services, among others.
Given this panorama, it was decided to develop a modernization of the architecture of the network of infocommunications that allows the integration of elements associated to intelligent electricity networks to the business data network, boosting financial performance, the quality of the electrical service and the reduction of losses of energy
The modernization has as objectives:
- Normalize the use of communication standards for the elements of the infocommunication architecture, so that it regulates its operation over time.
- Develop an architecture that guarantees the interoperability of the elements of measurement, control and protection, by adopting protocols approved by the electrical industry.
- Increase the level of security of the data that must be transported through the communication systems, so that the privacy of the information is consistently preserved.
- Design a scalable communications architecture, so that it is able to expand symmetrically with the electrical system without inherent limitations within its reach.
- Design an architecture with a high level of availability, so that access to information is guaranteed in a timely manner through resilience mechanisms.
To meet the scope and objectives proposed, the Operational Communication System has built on the strengths that are available, which are the availability of fiber optics as a means of mass transport, human talent and the availability of technologies in the market Suitable for the needs of the company.
In 2019, for the correct integration of IT and TO services, MPLS (Multiprotocol Label System) technology was implemented at the Core Network and CNFL Substations level. This technology allows us to transport on the same communication channel the traffic of the measurement services (AMI), control (ADMS), IP telephony, closed circuit television (CCTV) and user traffic, independently, ensuring the integrity and data security, as well as quality delivery.
At the Escazú Branch (South West Sector of the Metropolitan Area) during the 2019-2020 period, the CNFL would be installing 113 smart meters. For the reading of data from these meters, a low-cost solution based on the 000LowPAN protocol was designed, which is known as a field work network (FAN: Field Area Network). This network operates in the 6 MHz free band and has excellent availability and reliability indexes in the first months of operation. The FAN network operates in a MESH (mesh) topology and its backhaul to the business network uses fiber optics in ring topology, providing greater tolerance to failures and therefore the high level of availability obtained.
The operational communication system will continue to expand based on the planning of the generation, distribution and commercialization processes of the electricity business in the coming years.
With the implementation of the operational communication system, the CNFL will be prepared at the communications level to safely and gradually support the connectivity of the following services:
- Meter reading (AMI)
- Control of the distribution network (ADMS)
- Video traffic (CCTV)
- IP telephony
- CNFL application traffic
- Distributed Generation (DER)
- Electric vehicles (EV)
- Energy storage systems (ESS)
- Other services associated with intelligent electricity networks and the company's own operation
Likewise, through the implementation of the operational communication system, state-of-the-art technology is acquired in communication networks, required by the operating technologies, and therefore satisfying the expectations of a market-leading company in order to improve customer service.
Strategy and Business Development Management
Information and Communication Technologies Unit