A Telecommunication Infrastructure Investment Opportunity
A Telecommunication Infrastructure Investment Opportunity
A 100+ Year Old Global Ecosystem
Charles “Chuck” Speicher Jr.
(originally published on LinkedIn)
hairman of the Board at, Agile Fractal Grid Inc.
The grid is in critical need of becoming more resilient, more reliable and more secure in the digital world that is now evolving everywhere. The present state of grids around the globe are indeed quite brittle and less resilient due to the millions of legacy devices/sub-systems that are decades old and are now interoperable with advanced internet connected sub systems and support systems.
The installations of many of these devices/systems have been out of necessity in order to improve some of the archaic and obsolete methods developed decades ago. This happenstance method of bolting on advanced subsystems and devices may indeed present unintended consequences in the form of a major cascading failures of the power grid in countries all over the world.
Some have indeed already happened in India, the Ukraine and Japan to name just a few.
Cyber terrorism is proliferating at an alarming rate all over the world. The ease at which bad actors can penetrate networks today is not subsiding. The cost to gov’t and private industry is staggering in the hundreds of billions.The power grids are and have been targets of attack for years. The Chief Scientist of the NRECA stated recently the COOP’s grid is attacked every 2 minutes by sophisticated actors. More recently in the Ukraine where half the country’s power was interrupted for several hours and several years ago the Brazilian power grid was held hostage to a threat to take down their grid by a crime syndicate without a payment of a multi million dollar ransom.
A recent article stated that the malware that was used in the Ukraine attack could easily be modified to take down more advanced power grids than the archaic manual grid that was attacked a few months ago. It is actually more difficult to recover a grid that has more autonomic controls embedded in the operational systems than a manual system.
It has been stated the greatest engineering feat of the 20th century was the electrification of the world. That said one might consider the reengineering of the power grid as the greatest engineering feat of the 21st century. The proliferation of real time advanced technologies/controls in the electric grid like synchrophasors, micro grids, intelligent sensors and alternative energies like solar and wind are creating gaps in communications networks that must be filled in order to reduce operational inefficiencies. These advancements have laid the foundation to begin to build a smart grid. However the power grid is the most complex machine on the globe and will require the participation and expertise in all domains of the power grid in order to build the system of systems the grid will need to evolve into over the next 3 decade. The time to begin is now with the right vision, the right people and the right agile processes to support change without pain. Finally employ the collective wisdom of the team to capture the essence of the importance of this journey for future generations.
Hence a smart grid will begin to develop as a resilient grid that will embrace important functions like segmentability, agile control and fractal construction in order to support and maintain distributed generation, micro-grids, advanced architectures, big data, advanced analytics and high performance communications. This is the vision of the Chief Scientist, Craig Miller of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The NRECA organization was formed in 1936 to bring electricity to the rural areas of the USA as a nonprofit charter dedicated to the delivery of low cost electricity to its members. Today more than 900 COOPs distribute power and more than 50 generate power and construct the transmission systems that cover 75% of the land mass in the USA linked to the distribution COOPs. They are self regulated and conduct all of their own research and development utilizing the NRECA’s subsidiary CRN which Craig Miller heads up. It is through the “cooperative way” started by Theodore Roosevelt more than 75 years ago that such an effort will become reality and why an investment opportunity like the Agile Fractal Grid is so unique and necessary to advance the power grids here and around the globe.
Agile Fractal Grid Inc.
Our company was formed because the NRECA/CRN is a not for profit affinity organization that does not have the ability to commercialize an entire ecosystem. Nonetheless the vision of Craig Miller coupled to a COOP “community of practice” dedicated to the agile development of a high speed broadband network is just what is needed and is the mission of the Agile Fractal Grid Inc.
This network will serve multiple functions necessary to realize a network architecture that will scale to support billions of devices, billions of intelligent apps, the proliferation of high speed broadband throughout rural America (75% of the land mass), a high performance network capable of supporting deterministic workflows, highly secure with military grade security architecture and a shared infrastructure business model that will reduce Op EX and eliminate CapEx entirely. A somewhat disruptive business model just because digital innovations usually are at the onset Ex. iPhone, iPad. However they usually lead to new industries that grow up in support of the original disruptive innovations. Ex. app store and copy cat iphones.This is similar insomuch this disruptive business model will enable an entire ecosystem as part of a capability maturity model that evolves over time. However the business model will lead to the assembly of the foundational elements needed to transform how the electric grid operates as a resilient series of micro-grids .Instead of 3 brittle connected grids that because of how they are connected could cascade into a major grid failure. Ex San Diego due to human error actually caused in an Arizona substation hundreds of miles away. San Diego lost power for more than 8 hours before power was restored.
This transformation will give birth to score of new businesses and new energy markets that don’t exist today. It will give rise to millions of new jobs and economic development that is only talked about in political circles today. This is a blueprint on actually how to create economic development and new jobs through infrastructure investments.
Is there anything more important to any economy than resident reliable electricity and 100% access to the knowledge economy for everyone that we call broadband.
A team sport will build the new ecosystem.
Our organization has assembled a world class team. Collectively our management team is in possession of more than 150 years of practical and applied subject matter expertise in wireless technologies, data analytics, RF engineering, system of systems architectures, telecom networks,power engineering, management systems, data base architecture, agile development methods, military security systems,autonomic computing,standard based systems and emerging opens standards to name just some of the foundational elements, critical success factors by any other name. Finally a first to market business models that is game changing in a digital world that aggregates people, machines, data and technology at the speed of knowledge.
Knowledge when shared within a “community of practice” is the bridge to managing the three legged stool people, technology and process.
Such a community enables the fourth leg of the stool to emerge as a system of systems. This was the formula developed and used at NASA to build the Space Shuttle which seems quite appropriate for the task at hand here.
Where does one start?
Anywhere at all is the simple answer but what is paramount for all of mankind is that we indeed start, for the alternatives of doing nothing could alter the future generations of billions of people on the globe should we choose that path.
Our business models,our agile development process and our “community of practice” a few of the foundational elements will allow us all to realize Craig’s vision one project at a time.Provided of course that we use a common architecture so that no matter how many changes occur we will always maintain that same architecture over the life of the ecosystem so that it is organic to its’ core.
The sensible place to start is with the COOPs. We intend to fill their high speed broadband needs by building our solution on top of their electrical infrastructure because it is already there. By using a shared infrastructure business model bundled with our unique multimodal small cell we can quickly aggregate customers and partners that benefit from this business model for it reduces OpEX and eliminates CAPEX. The Agile Fractal Grid Inc. pays for the infrastructure buildout using infrastructure funding from several available sources.
The AFG multi modal small cell will be installed on telephone poles with transformers so that the small cell will deliver intelligence to the edge of the network and at sub-stations for neighborhood controls like volt var optimization needed for smart applications like solar, wind, electric vehicles and storage to name just a few use cases. There are hundreds of use cases from an electrical functionality perspective as well as hundreds more from an industrial internet perspective that will run segregated on the same infrastructure. Hence why we refer to one business model as Infrastructure as a Service.
What emerges is the “Industrial Internet” an internet you can trust built at the edge and on top of the electrical infrastructure.By definition the power grid is an industrial network of millions of devices, sub systems and software applications loosely coupled and tightly integrated as a heterogeneous network, a system of systems by any other name.
Remember the grid and the industrial internet have requirements that are currently not being met by the existing comm networks due to the real time requirements, low latency, higher speeds that must be built out as a distributed network at the edge of the neighborhood. Not at some central locations tens of miles or hundreds of miles away from where IT lives. Example the meters or the substations in the neighborhoods is where the data intelligence must come from in order to manage the grid state in real time. Why because one cannot deliver low latency from regional takeout networks or national backbones. Intelligence must be localized in a community based topology.
The AFG Inc. intends to build a network that will touch the sub stations and pole top transformers in the COOP neighborhoods where people and machines live work and play. This approach drives intelligence to the edge of the network and in the neighborhoods where it has to go. The substations will become mini data centers using data huts that will fill the real time intelligence requirements as a managed hosted access network endpoint.
So that the COOPs ecosystem of wireless carriers, alternative energy users/producers, ISOs, ISVs and partners not only produce revenue but share revenue through participation in our Digital Marketplace. DM our second business model will deliver many benefits like speed to market, clearing house functions, access to new sales channels, and a secure network to conduct business without linking to the internet as a platform of platforms.
The third business model will be support services that will offer a variety of services like Data Center as a Service, Management as a Service, Concierge Services, Big Data Hub as a Service, Interfaces as a Service, Systems & Network Services support.
It was reported by the World Bank and GE in 2012 in a white paper entitled “ Industrial Internet Pushing the Boundaries of Minds and Machines” that more than 49% of the worlds’s GDP $32 trillion will benefit from the Industrial Internet. 100% of energy production and 44% of energy consumption will benefit from the emergence of an Industrial Internet .It will be the single most important catalyst in carbon reduction. Our world is changing and the digital revolution is driving it but there are investments that must be made in order to realize a bright and uninterrupted future globally.
The Industrial Internet will require an adequate backbone. Data centers, broadband spectrum, and fiber networks all components of the ICT infrastructure that will need to be further developed to connect the various machines, systems, and networks across industries and geographies. This will require a combination of inter and intrastate infrastructure in order to support the significant growth in data flows involved with the Industrial Internet. We contend the best place to start such an investment in the infrastructure is in rural America.