With the migration to the smart grid, utilities will find themselves increasingly dependent on next-generation communications networks. Rather than build and operate their own infrastructure, companies such as Duke Energy say they plan to rely on a melange of existing access solutions, including cellular and power line communications. Other interested parties, such as Bruce Walker of Gridwise Alliance, have lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to allocate dedicated broadband spectrum for utilities. "[We] are on the precipice of a journey that will inextricably link" energy and communications technologies, Walker said.

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