Safe power supply through 450 MHz!?
A safe and reliable power supply is the basis for our lives today. Practically all sectors of our society depend on it. Even a brief blackout - i.e. a widespread failure of the power supply - would paralyze social life and the economy. To this end, electricity network operators need crisis-proof communication tools. Can the 450 MHz frequency newly allocated in Germany help here?
Security of supply is a valuable asset
The light works, mobile phone batteries are charged, traffic lights regulate traffic, clean drinking water flows from the tap, emergency care in hospitals is guaranteed – we take all this for granted in our everyday life in Germany. However, all this requires a reliable power supply.
The electricity network operators are doing their utmost to maintain this reliability – quite successfully, because Germany has one of the most reliable electricity networks in the world. However, if a blackout does occur, the power supply must be restored as quickly as possible. To this end, the accessibility of all relevant appliances and generators must be ensured. Even those in places that are difficult to access, such as cellars, shafts and installations or in very remote areas. The growing challenge: Electricity network operators must now be able to reach millions of decentralized plants – and the number is growing daily. Accordingly, the demands on the availability of secure communication are increasing rapidly, especially in rural areas. In short, the electricity network operators need sufficient and, above all, crisis-proof communication solutions. The frequencies at 450 MHz to be newly allocated by the state are the ideal solution for this, as they perfectly cover the requirements of the so-called "critical infrastructure" and thus of network operators.
Energy system transformation, digitization, cyber attacks – new challenges require new solutions
The energy transition has fundamentally changed the energy landscape in Germany. Today, power network operators must be able to digitally network many more decentralized power generators and appliances and control them securely. Without offering cyber criminals additional points of attack. Moreover, the generation of energy from wind and photovoltaic systems is much more volatile than conventional systems. In the future, the introduction of smart meters will also enable communication down to the level of individual households. A broad and highly available communication solution is essential for this performance.
The 450 MHz frequency is the communication solution to ensure security of supply
The 450 MHz frequency is characterized by a relatively large wavelength. This makes it rather easy to ensure the required building penetration and area-wide accessibility. In addition, the very good propagation characteristics of the frequency do not require a closely meshed extension of radio masts. For this reason, it would also be possible to expand and operate emergency power generators on these masts at low cost, which would ensure communication even in the event of a crisis.
The license for the 450 MHz frequency will be newly awarded
The special suitability of the 450 MHz for the tasks of the energy industry is also confirmed by an expert report commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and prepared by the consulting firm WIK together with the Technical University of Dortmund. The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology has responded by deciding to award the frequency to the energy industry. The same frequency has also been allocated to the energy industry abroad in many cases.
National Security Agencies could also use the 450 MHz frequency for their purposes. However, unlike the energy industry, they already have other options at their disposal, including the 700 MHz frequency band. And finally, a secure energy supply in the event of a crisis is in the interest of everyone, including the security authorities.
For months, the three ministries – the Federal Ministry of Economics, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Transport – have been discussing to whom the 450 MHz frequency should be allocated. Formally, the decision on the allocation of that frequency lies with the Federal Ministry of Transport. The energy sector is urgently awaiting this decision.