Telecommunications trends and applications in the smart grid

Electrical network Smart Grids

Telecommunications, after its continuous evolution in recent decades, has become a fundamental and necessary part of the correct operation of the electricity grid. Discover our advances in this field as pioneers in the deployment of telecommunications services associated with the electricity grid.

Telecommunications are an essential part of enabling the efficient, safe and reliable operation of the electricity grid.

The first telecommunications service provided to the electricity grid was the so-called operational voice at a time when mobile phones were not even in our imagination. It was a service that allowed the operators working on the power grid to communicate with each other as well as with the control centre and is still essential today to achieve the required efficiency and safety. 

In the mid-20th century, the automation of electricity grid assets began. Specifically, protections began to be installed (to protect both assets and, above all, people) and remote telecontrol devices that send information on the status of the installation to the control centre and can, in turn, receive orders from the latter to operate the grid. This equipment needs telecommunications links to be able to function correctly, and telecommunications became fundamental and inherent to the evolution of the electrical grid.


Nowadays, telecommunications are an essential part of enabling the efficient, safe and reliable operation of the electricity grid. Iberdrola, which was a pioneer in the deployment of telecommunications services associated with the electricity grid, continues to lead the current development of telecommunications in multiple areas. This development is manifested in two trends that we have actively and continuously promoted:

  • Digitalisation: The evolution of information technologies has transformed the way people communicate, as well as society itself. At Iberdrola, we have incorporated these technologies into the telecommunications of our electricity grids, improving the efficiency of their operations and allowing our customers to benefit from the advantages they bring. 
  • Use of proprietary networks: In addition to the use of public telecommunications services, Iberdrola deploys its own telecommunications networks, which allow it to provide services that are ideally adapted to the needs of the electricity grid and its customers. As a result, energy distribution is carried out more efficiently and, above all, more reliably, while operating costs are reduced. 


This evolution of telecommunications means that we are transforming the way we develop and operate the electricity grid, in search of greater efficiency, mainly in three areas:

 Grid monitoring and operation: Thanks to telecommunications, it is possible to monitor and operate the electricity grid in real time, reducing the number and duration of service interruptions, as well as operating costs, with the consequent benefit for customers. 

 Introduction of new renewable, distributed and zero-emission generation technologies, which are essential in the fight against climate change and which would not be possible without the telecommunications technologies available today.

 Development of Smart Grids with the consequent introduction of new services for the customer. These include the possibility of having effective control over their consumption and the availability of generating their own clean energy (self-consumption).

Telecommunications in smart grids: optical fibre, IP-MPLS, 4G and 5G networks and remote control

Iberdrola's leadership in telecommunications associated with electricity grids has enabled us to become a world leader in this field. Some examples of cutting-edge technologies that we use are:

  • Optical fibre transmission using DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing). This technology allows up to 100 times more information to be transmitted over a single optical fibre by using "different coloured light". Each "colour" carries the same information as a single fibre with conventional technology. 
  • IP-MPLS (Internet Protocol - Multiprotocol Label Switching) high-capacity digital networks, which allow the transfer of large information flows, using the same technology that enables the core of today's Internet to functio
  • Use of 4G and soon 5G networks. Both with commercial operators' infrastructure and with own networks.
  • Power Line Communications, or telecommunications over the power line. We are leading the development of the PRIME (PoweRline Intelligent Metering Evolution) standard, which enables mass deployment of telecommunications to reach the millions of smart meters installed to serve your customers, without the need to deploy additional infrastructure to the power lines. We also have tens of thousands of deployed equipment, with broadband PLC technology, which allows network assets to communicate through underground medium-voltage cables.
Coelba Integrated Operations Centre (Brazil).

At Iberdrola we continue to make progress in the field of telecommunications, leading multiple innovation projects in all the countries in which we operate, to enable the development of technologies applied to the needs of an electricity distribution company. Technologies that allow, among other things, improvement of grid automation and control, smart metering functionalities, communication and information available to the brigades in their work in the field, as well as communication with customers.

It is important to note that the development of Smart Grids has required the consequent deployment of significant telecommunications networks in electric utilities. These telecommunications networks have gone from serving a few thousand locations to having millions of points of presence with services that go far beyond the traditional ones, which has posed a challenge to which the company has responded with innovative solutions. 

Iberdrola has been a pioneer in this field, and continues to innovate with the development of projects to improve the performance of its telecommunications networks, which has made the group a world leader in this field, always with the aim of improving the service it offers its customers.