The Value of Network Impairment Testing in Power Grids

Facing a growing challenge

Power utilities networks are responsible for the transmission and distribution of electricity to homes and businesses. These networks require communication networks to manage and monitor the flow of power, ensuring that it is delivered reliably and efficiently. Without effective communication networks, power outages and other issues could occur.

In the past, the most common communication technology used in power utilities networks was Time-Division Multiplexing (TDM). TDM was developed during the early stages of telecommunications and has been reliable in transmitting data over the years. However, as power utilities networks have grown and evolved, the amount of data that needs to be transmitted has also increased. TDM has limitations in terms of its ability to handle the volume of data that needs to be transferred.

To address these limitations, power utilities networks are now shifting towards modern packet-based networks, such as TCP/IP. Packet-based networks have the capacity to handle large amounts of data and can be scaled up as the network grows. However, this shift presents new challenges, such as network security, compatibility with legacy systems, and the need for specialized technical expertise.


One of the most important types of data being sent over the network is called differential protection traffic. The transmission of differential protection traffic is crucial for safe operation of power grids as it controls relays in the network that will turn off power if something goes wrong. This type of traffic requires low latency and symmetrical delay to function properly, but this is not always possible with packet-based networks that are replacing older TDM-based protocols. That’s why it’s important to test the network components to make sure they’re working properly and safely in different situations. Calnex, an organisation that specializes in this area, has been assisting power industry organisations for many years. The following section will provide examples of how Calnex has helped in this regard.

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What is network impairment testing?
Network impairment testing is a process of intentionally introducing different types of network issues or impairments, such as delays, jitter, packet loss, and other network-related problems, into a network environment to evaluate the performance and behavior of network devices and applications under these conditions. This type of testing helps identify and diagnose network issues, verify network performance, and ensure that the network can operate optimally under different scenarios and conditions. Network impairment testing is commonly used in industries like telecommunications, power utilities, finance, and IT to ensure that their networks can handle different types of traffic and operate reliably in real-world scenarios.

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