More Reliable Grid Monitoring with Our MIMO Phantom Antenna

Mon, 12/07/2020 - 16:40

MIMO in Grid Monitoring: A More Reliable Picture

For electrical utility providers, being competitive is all about timely, granular data about demand and consumption across the area of service. The complexities of managing distributed generation and limiting peak demand are only possible with a clear view of the big picture formed by real-time data. This means utilizing sensors at all layers of the infrastructure, including generation sites, transmission lines, substations, and more. A comprehensive grid management strategy thrives on lots of data, delivered reliably and synthesized into actionable information in the cloud. Getting it right leads to major efficiencies, prevention of outages, a self-healing grid and better service for customers everywhere.

Due to the sprawling geography of electrical infrastructure, wide-area networking technologies like cellular have taken up a significant presence in those monitoring systems. And the majority of those, in the recent past, have been based on 3G cellular, which is limited by specification to a single antenna stream per radio, as well as limited data rates. Although 5G is the talk of the town, the 5G network buildout has years to go, especially when considering the remoteness of much of the utility networks. Today, customers are deploying 4G/LTE technology, itself a step up from 3G due to higher data throughput facilitated by MIMO (2x) antennas on each gateway.   

These smart grid monitoring solutions have much to gain in adopting a MIMO antenna solution to meet the features of 4G LTE. Whether in remote transmission lines or in dense industrial sites, the addition of a second antenna can increase connection throughput and signal integrity by virtue of the multiple data streams.  Our MIMO Phantom antenna is specifically designed to provide multi-antenna functionality in a single housing that simplifies integration and provides unmatched performance.

Why MIMO Matters – Antenna Diversity and Reliability

There are many ways to utilize MIMO to improve a wireless application, but for remote applications, a significant advantage is using either spatial diversity or spatial multiplexing; these methods (requiring 2 antennas) will ensure a more reliable connection and increase data throughput respectively. Considering that transmission lines often cross through remote areas that are occluded by terrain and vegetation, a MIMO solution provides a critical redundancy check. Multi-antenna designs provide a backup – if one stream fails, it’s possible or even likely that the other succeeds. This is especially valuable since remote installs take longer to reach for service, and every minute that sensors are unreachable means missing out on critical information that can shape operations.  

In these remote installations, connectivity is absolutely critical. Sensors on remote lines can indicate back to the supply station whether there’s been a failure such as a damaged line, which can rapidly turn into a forest fire in drought-stricken areas. Reliable connectivity makes it immediately possible for the supplier to sense a failure and automatically cut power to the line. Broken connectivity means a downed line continues to spark and flame, leading to conditions that create wildfires and property damage.

This redundancy and backup isn’t just important in remote installations – industrial environments like power plants or electrical substations are dense with machinery and obstacles that can block signal and prove difficult for wireless designs. A MIMO antenna design is effective in these challenging RF environments for the same reasons: the combination results in a significantly higher success rate than any antenna acting alone.

Our MIMO Phantom antenna is uniquely built for applications like this, featuring some of our most popular hardware packaged in a carefully designed radome that gets the absolute most out of 4G LTE MIMO.

Built on Our Highly Popular Phantom Antenna Design

Laird Connectivity’s Phantom antennas are widely renowned in many industries for their reliability, durability, and optional ground-plane independent design. They’re available for a wide range of frequencies from VHF up to 6 GHz, and their performance and ease of installation have made them highly popular in IoT, M2M and vehicular mount applications.

The MIMO Phantom leverages our decades of experience with the Phantom antenna design by integrating two Phantom antennas into a single purpose-built radome which positions and aligns them spatially for optimal performance. This is a key advantage of the MIMO Phantom: co-locating two antennas can introduce the possibility of interference, signal degradation, and failure. Careful modelling and engineering is required to be sure that two antennas produce optimal performance without undesired influence on each other. The MIMO Phantom is the product of our years of RF design experience, combining two Phantom antennas into a high-performance multiport solution that produces optimal connectivity.

The antenna also enjoys the advantage of a single mount hole, reducing the number of fail points in integrating it into your design. A single mount hole is simpler for integration and introduces less chance of leaks or physical failure at the mount point. This, coupled with the IP67-rating of the MIMO Phantom housing itself, makes the antenna a rugged and durable choice for both indoor and outdoor applications.

Don’t Compromise with Critical Sensor Data On The Line

For the modern smart grid, big changes in production, routing, storage, and delivery are built on the information gathered from hundreds of small data points. There is no small failure – every measurable bit helps inform the decisions that keep suppliers ahead of demand, operating at high efficiency, and protecting the integrity of the infrastructure that supplies their customers.

Ensuring the reliability of that measurable data is a critical component of your smart grid management plan, and the MIMO Phantom antenna is uniquely suited to the challenge. This current wave of smart grid hardware will take advantage of the antenna diversity in the latest generation of 4G IoT gateways, increasing uptime and ensuring reliability in challenging environments.  

Learn more about our MIMO Phantom antenna.