In my last blog, Super-fast IoT Enabled 5G is Right Around the Corner, Or Is It?, I discussed how the industry was mobilizing to deliver on 5G and the promise of 5G (sub 1ms latency).

I noted how “the buzz” around 5G had hit a peak in 2016, in my opinion. However, I believe that today we are seeing a new wave of optimism intended to accelerate the deployment timeline, plus a new name 5G new radio (NR). We saw local operators MTS and MegaFon demonstrate 5G NR in stadium trial zones at the big football tournament in Russia. In American football, Verizon picked the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota to test its 5G NR wireless technology as the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in February.

Are these test beds going to turn into actual, commercialized, broad based networks?

The Relationship Between Network “Communities” and Micro Data Centers

Let’s not overlook the strategic importance of the venues where these trials took place. It’s true that the popularity of these events was perfect for driving exposure, but stadiums are also perfect from a technical perspective. Let me explain: 5G NR networks will be deployed in “communities” that can be as small as an office building, a bit larger like a stadium, or the maximum deployment size of a small city. Larger cities will have multiple “communities” deployed for a single application like Enhanced Mobile Broadband (EMBB), plus dedicated “communities” for specific applications like a smart manufacturing plant, farm, or building.

The Radio Access Network (RAN) for 5G NR will have many mmWave small cells very close to the user (data) in a very dense layout. This small cell densification forms a “community” that communicates with a local core base station. That’s right, 5G NR only works if it has line of sight with these small cells and mmWave antennas, which have to be in close proximity to the users. These will transmit to a local core base station that will serve multiple functions. It will manage all of the network traffic and it will cache high bandwidth content for delivery into the local “community.” And a new generation of micro data centers will enable these local core base stations.

The Improved User Experience with 5G

man using mobile phoneYou can think of 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G networks as delivering a mobile experience in increasingly enhanced ways as it enables you to talk, watch movies, and even teleconference while traveling in your car, on a train, or on a plane. With 5G NR, you can experience never-before-possible, latency-free applications like autonomous driving and holographic communications. But it will be delivered in relatively small and dedicated areas. So, 5G NR will deliver latency-free, enhanced mobile broadband only in a “confined” area. In the test case stadiums, for example, you could watch interactive Ultra High Definition (4K UHD) video from a 360-degree camera on virtual reality (VR) glasses. However, you lose this ability when you get in your car and drive down the street. This is not what most people are expecting.

But, what is this 5G NR exactly? The main difference in 5G NR is the spectrum in which it will operate. mmWave technology used in 5G NR is defined as anything above 30 GHz (4G maxes out at 6 GHz but is usually around 2 GHz). Physics tells us that as the frequency spectrum increases so does the potential for propagation loss and sensitivity to blockage. In layman’s terms, 5G NR communication experiences huge losses when it must go through solid objects or travel any significant distance. Millimeter waves are governed by the same physics as the rest of the radio spectrum and, as such, they have limitations related to their wavelength. The shorter the wavelength, the shorter the transmission range for a given power. This means that as the GHz go higher, so does the potential for blockage and losses. Note the 30-300 GHz spectrum that 5G NR is shooting for was not used in the recent test cases at the stadiums. They operated in the high end of the 4G window.

Setting Expectations for 5G NR

The bottom line is I believe 5G NR has tremendous promise, but sometimes I can’t help thinking that 5G NR might stand for 5G.. Not Really. That is because 5G NR poses the most technological challenges compared to previous generations and will initially launch at lower spectrum and lower speed initially. It will need to go through many more test cases to prove viability and tweak the performance, but it will eventually get there. One thing is for sure, it will be much more distributed and be heavily dependent on densified small cells and antennas with local cache of high bandwidth content within the “communities” that will be housed in micro data centers. To stay informed about 5G NR and know what to expect next, be sure to check out the International Telecommunications Union-Radio website.

Written by Guest Blogger, Kelly Bierman, US Well-Being Manager at Schneider Electric

How has your company encouraged you to be healthier?  At Schneider Electric, we strive to create a culture of well-being every day for all employees.  For us well-being is about being healthy, being happy and making the most of our energy at work and at home.

As a company we are committed to creating a healthy environment for all our employees, and we are thrilled to share that we have recently been recognized by the American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Achievement Index at the gold level – for the second year in a row. We’re proud to be part of this elite group of organizations recognized for their implementation of quality workplace health programs and culture of health best practices.

Earlier this year, Interactive Health also selected Schneider Electric as one of the 2017 Healthiest Companies in America, making this our 3rd year achieving the designation.

These awards speak to the passion and dedication our employees have embraced for prioritizing well-being.  I recently asked colleagues to share what they do to stay healthy and what Schneider Electric well-being programs have made the most impact.

Staying Healthy by Tracking Fitness

“The emphasis of a healthy lifestyle at Schneider Electric has helped encourage me to stay healthy and active day to day. Last year, as part of the fitness reimbursement program, Schneider added the Apple Watch. One of my coworkers, Molly Tague, and I decided to purchase the Apple watch to better track our fitness and movement. We were able to share our fitness summary with each other, which helped us have a friendly competition to see who was taking more steps, burning more calories, and remaining active in general.  The watch encourages us to get up and walk around each hour, if only for one minute. This was a reminder way for us to get up and stretch our legs, walk to get water or coffee together, and step away from our desks for just a few minutes to clear our minds.

Since then, we’ve had a few other friends and coworkers use their fitness reimbursement to buy Apple watches. We get updates for each other after every workout, which is a good reminder that our friends are living a healthy lifestyle and we should too! I see a lot of people in the office now with various fitness trackers on, and I think it’s great that our peers have decided to keep an eye on their activity day to day, and in a broader view.”

  • Amy Miller, Marketing Specialist
    Franklin, TN

Kara and her family of 8, all covered under BCBS.  “All of us use fitness equipment and gym membership purchased with those dollars, which of course lowers the cost that BCBS sees for illness and injuries.”

So Many Different Program Options!

“I do not even know where to start with how many healthy Schneider Electric stories I have!  Some of my very favorite programs include:

  1. Health reimbursement – has helped me purchase a treadmill, row machine, spin bike for my home gym, and several years of gym membership fees.
  2. Well onTarget offered through Blue Cross-BlueShield (BCBS) – completely love this program.  It is the first program I have ever seen that rewards me for simply doing the right things like exercising, eating right, getting my annual physicals, taking care of my mental health with really cool stuff.  Since I began logging my activity/eating/stress reducers/etc. I have earned enough ‘Blue Points’ to get Fitbits for 3 of my family members completely free.  And oh by the way, these family members are also covered under my BCBS policy, so that works out well for BCBS as well.
  3. Having the annual Bio test done right in the office is super time-efficient
  4. Naturally Slim program – I cannot say enough good things about this!  I am 52, 5’4” tall, and 114 pounds.  I’ve been a certified Personal Trainer and certified Fitness Instructor as well as a Marathon Coach.  I have exercised and eaten really well through the birth of all 6 of my children, and through competing in dozens of marathon’s including the Boston Marathon.  The NS program contains such good, common sense, and can be completed completely on-line around anyone’s schedule.  It’s great that Schneider has paid the cost for so many of us to go through this program.

Kara and her youngest son after he won a medal for completing the Special Kids 5k race in March in Nashville. “Special Kids is supported by the NAM SE Foundation. The well-being initiatives SE supports go beyond just SE employees, but also touches employee’s children as well as many others in the communities where we work.” – Kara

As for staying healthy at work:

  1. I am a huge well-being advocate.  Having well-being be a major component of Schneider’s policies is wonderful.  I have had many, many one-to-ones while walking and while running over lunch.
  2. Schneider’s well-being initiative has allowed me to help reinforce healthy lifestyle behavior’s among folks that report to me, as well as to my peers.
  3. It’s great to see Schneider investing in standing desks, treadmill desks, alternative desk chairs, and fitness centers.”
  • Kara Greer, Global Project Manager
    Nashville, TN

Broadening My Fitness Horizons

“I’m not surprised that Interactive Health has named Schneider Electric one of 2017’s Healthiest Companies in America, as they make it easy for employees to engage in healthy behaviors.

Schneider’s Health and Fitness Reimbursement Program has really broadened my fitness horizons:

  • My husband and I have really enjoy competing with our Fitbits – encouraging us to move more in our quest to top each other with our daily steps.
  • Because of this program, I took classes in yoga (which I loved) and Tai Chi (which I didn’t). I may never have explored these disciplines if Schneider hadn’t made it possible.
  • When I was having some knee issues, I was able to purchase some exercise equipment designed to strengthen the knee. I believe it aided in getting me moving again sooner.
  • When my scale finally died, I used the program to purchase a new one. I use it daily to assist with weight management.
  • This year, I became a member of Planet Fitness and have finally found a health club I like!
  • Probably my favorite purchase made through the reimbursement program has been the Exerpeutic WORKFIT 1000 Desk Station Folding Semi-Recumbent Exercise Bike with laptop stand. Rather than sitting at a desk all day, I can do my work on the bike and barely notice I am pedaling. It really has been a game changer when working from home.

It’s so much fun – and always an adventure –  deciding each year how to use this amazing Health and Fitness benefit. I look forward to continuing exploring new ways to get healthier with Schneider’s assistance.”

  • Kim Herman, Contracts Administrative Assistant
    Fairfax, VA

Julie crosses the finish line at the Hawaii Half Ironman (70.3 miles) in 2017

Employees Love Event Reimbursement!

“I use my $300 annual reimbursement to sign up for events. My 2018 event selected is Ironman Florida on November 3. This will be my first FULL Ironman. If you aren’t aware of Ironman, a full Ironman is a triathlon with a distance of 140.6 miles comprised of 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run to be completed in less than 17 hours.

I’ve hit a few bumps in the road (literally) along the way and right now I’m recovering from a torn hamstring but I never quit. My manager told me I inspired him to get shape and now he has a personal trainer. He has made great progress.  I’m hoping my injury is fully healed soon when I need to start training seriously.”

  • Julie Dickson, Sr. IT Project Manager
    Miami, FL

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Electric utilities provide vital continuous and critical electricity supply to billions of people across the globe. But some areas face extreme weather: floods, high winds, storms, fires, hurricanes or heat waves. These conditions create exceptional challenges for power supply continuity and can result in widespread damage to the power infrastructure and cause severe outages, affecting significant numbers of electric utilities’ customers. The best way to deal with extreme weather conditions is the creation of a robust power network that improves monitoring and control and automatically responds to any major crisis — enhancing confidence in supply continuity during extreme events.

Below are two examples of the challenges electric utilities operating in places with frequent severe weather or environmental events, like Australia, need to face:

  • Power outages: When a power outage occurs, finding the source can be a challenge at any time. In large parts of regional and rural Australia, the reality of isolating the problem along hundreds of kilometers of line is formidable due to lack of full SCADA coverage and the distances to travel to locate the fault.
  • Safety issues: In some regions hit by heat waves during summer, there is a high risk of bushfires because of the hot and dry climate. Faults on overhead lines may cause bushfires, power poles can fall due to high winds or fire and so must be identified, disconnected and isolated as quickly as possible.

Taking on this kind of challenges and solving these issues, requires a highly capable grid management system that provides real time monitoring, pinpoint accuracy, and a high degree of automation and control.

The installation of an advanced distribution management system, together with grid automation equipment and pole-mounted switchgear, provides one of the best solutions for electric utilities. It gives them better visibility of their network, allowing them to capture their network structure for one centralized source of truth.

The modern advanced network management system reduces the duration of power outages and the number of households the outage affects. It does this in a split second, by identifying where a line outage has occurred and rerouting the electricity grid to bypass this section. Then, the location of the outage is precisely pinpointed so maintenance crews can be dispatched efficiently. Additionally, most current networks have many schematics and feeder plans that are recorded on paper. With the implementation of a new system, these are recorded electronically and consolidated.

Not only does this reduce safety concerns but it improves SAIDI1 & SAIFI2 figures resulting in a more cost effective utility network.

What’s important to remember? Ensuring electrical supply in harsh environments is never going to be easy. The power of nature can sometimes defeat even the most robust electrical engineering. But a good partner can always help handle these conditions and actively provide solutions when outages are experienced.

Due to climate change, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent — and it often means power blackouts. In today’s climate, it’s useful to know more about the evolution of utility outage management and understand why implementing an advanced distribution management system helps electric utilities: Read our free white paper “Enhancing Utility Outage Management System (OMS) Performance”.

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1 System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) which is a measure of the average number of interruptions a customer experiences in a year

2 System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) which measures the number of interrupted minutes a customer experiences in a year.

Airline travel took 68 years to reach 50 million users where the internet achieved that in just 7. The same way we have seen the speed of technology adoption accelerate is happening across every industry. Between 2007 and 2017 the world’s largest companies completely changed. The future of design and collaboration is also changing. Increases in computer capabilities and miniaturization of devices change the way Designers and Specifiers make decisions. Whether it’s going beyond computers as a tool (CAD), using Augmented Reality (AR)/ Virtual Reality (VR), 3D and 4D printing, or collaborating via the cloud get insight from our future of design & collaboration infographic below. Consulting Engineers, collaborate with us to get more done with dedicated tools, resources and technical assistance.

The Future of Design and Collaboration Schneider Electric