The UK’s National Grid, one of the world’s largest public utilities, is responsible for the distribution of electricity and gas throughout the UK. National Grid has chosen Exfo for a pilot project to monitor its fiber network. This move supports the UK’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
The National Grid has implemented an overhead fiber optic telecommunications network throughout its electricity transmission infrastructure, which carries vital information crucial for safe and efficient utility operations. Exfo’s technology will be used to evaluate the fiber network’s performance, predict its remaining lifespan, and pinpoint any potential weak points or vulnerabilities.
Exfo is using a new approach for this pilot project, by collecting data from Intellisense Systems’ micro weather stations, which are Internet of Things devices, to measure the environmental impact of wind, humidity, and other meteorological events. This data will be combined and analyzed with data from the fiber optic network, using Exfo’s AI-based analytics solution, to predict, detect, and prevent outages. Additionally, Exfo is deploying optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) units at key nodes on the fiber optic network to monitor its transmission characteristics and assess its overall health.
The National Grid expects that Exfo’s monitoring and fault detection will result in a net benefit of around £2.9m ($3.5M) by preventing failures and extending the lifespan of the existing network. Tom Charton, Senior Innovation Engineer at the National Grid, stated that operational telecommunications networks are a vital part of their critical national infrastructure and play a key role in achieving a net-zero economy by 2050. He also highlighted that a significant portion of their fiber network is reaching an age where failures may become more common and harder to address.