The Wireless Communications Layer for Smart Grid

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Today, the U.S. electric grid is a massive interconnected infrastructure which has become a fundamental component in the daily modern lifestyle. In 2009, the U.S. government issued the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which mandates an investment of "$11 billion for a bigger, better and smarter [electrical] grid" (Energy & Environment 2009). The new smart grid architecture will include a communications layer which uses telecommunications technology to digitize data, enable intelligent self-awareness, monitoring, increased reliability, and accelerate failure response. This research analyzes the wireless technological alternatives within the Wide Area Network (WAN), Field Area Network (FAN) and Home Area Network (HAN) categories of the communications layer of the smart grid architecture.