UK National Grid taps EXFO for fibre health monitoring

Created January 17, 2023
News and Business

The UK’s National Grid, one of the world’s largest publicly-listed utilities which transmits and distributes of electricity and gas, has selected EXFO for a pilot scheme to provide monitoring for its ongoing fibre network health assessment in the UK, supporting the UK’s goal of becoming net-zero by 2050.,

National Grid has deployed an overhead fibre optic operational telecommunications network across its electricity transmission infrastructure that carries critical information essential for secure and efficient utility operations. EXFO’s technology will help assess the operational condition of the fibre network, while predicting its remaining technical lifespan and identifying potential points of weakness or failure. EXFO’s optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) fibre monitoring units are being deployed at key nodes on the fibre optic network to monitor its optical transmission characteristics and measure its health and condition.

EXFO says the for the first time in such an application, it will also collect data from Intellisense Systems micro weather station (MWS®) IoT devices being deployed to measure the specific environmental impact of wind, humidity and meteorological events. EXFO’s SensAI analytics solution will amalgamate and correlate data from both the fibre optic network and weather system inputs, and dynamically predict, detect, and prevent outages and impairments in the network that might otherwise go unnoticed.

EXFO will measure, analyse, and report results from an 80 km span of the National Grid network in one of the most challenging areas of the UK for weather issues over a 12-month period. Deployment of test equipment and Intellisense devices got underway in October 2022. National Grid anticipates that EXFO’s proactive monitoring and fault detection can deliver a net benefit of as much as GBP2.9 million derived from failure avoidance and extending the lifespan of the existing network.

“Operational telecommunications networks are an important part of our critical national infrastructure and play a key role in enabling our transition to a net zero economy by 2050. Large parts of our fibre network are reaching an age where failures may become more frequent and more difficult to address. We are therefore exploring new ways to monitor and model fibre health and its evolution over time to enable optimised planning of refurbishment and replacement interventions,” said Tom Charton, senior innovation engineer at the National Grid.

(Image: National Grid)

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This article was written
by Peter Dykes

Peter Dykes is a independent telecoms and technology journalist who has over that last 30 years written for a wide range of B2B publications and companies. A former BT engineer, he specialises in networks and associated support systems. He is currently Editor of Optical Connections.