Why wireless communications will play a major role in the energy sector

By Thomas Ornevik 4 min read

In the future, we are likely to look back and recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the biggest contributors emphasizing the need for high-bandwidth, low-latency communications in all sectors. This means that it was the pandemic event that was the real catalyst for remote working and remote operations – and not chief information officers (CIOs) or IT managers. This is the trend across all industries. Even if people wish things could “go back to normal”, they won’t for a long time, if ever.

At present, the energy sector is focusing on digital twins, moving employees from offshore to onshore, and enabling remote operations and control. As in other sectors, this is driving the need for bandwidth. Also, applications allowing remote operations are very sensitive to latency. As such, it’s not just a focus on higher data rates, but even more so a focus on low latency.

What we also see is that there is a trend toward shorter and more focused drilling campaigns. This, once again, puts a higher demand on connectivity to offshore vessels as they need to operate more efficiently than before. And let’s not forget that there is still a high degree of focus on OPEX. Lowering costs and maintaining profitability of all aspects of operations has led to a changed mindset about how to provide connectivity.

All combined, this means that there is a greater need for low-latency and high-bandwidth communications in the energy sector.

Traditionally, satellites and submarine fiber cables have been the connectivity solutions used for the offshore energy sector. With the need for more bandwidth and the desire for more cost-effective solutions, more and more projects are looking at microwave (MW) to provide the connectivity required for offshore operations. For many assets MW could be the most cost-effective solution as it can provide very high capacity and low latency for the demanding applications that operators today are looking to deploy.

In brief, MW has several clear advantages:

  • Provides the lowest latency
  • Delivers high capacity required today, and in the future
  • Deploys very quickly and can be reused and simply realigned if assets change locations
  • Deploys in hazardous areas
  • Upgrades easily

All this leads to the fact that microwave provides the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO).

Another use case emerges when there is a fiber link to a first asset. In such a scenario, there are advantages for using wireless technologies to “hub and spoke” the connectivity to other assets in the area instead of laying additional submarine cables. This saves time and money in getting all assets connected and allowing bandwidth to be shared among several different assets. An additional benefit provided by this solution is that MW technology also allows incoming vessels to connect to the network through a point-to-multipoint (PtMP) network. So multiple users can take advantage of the MW connectivity and run more efficient operations.

Even if the energy sector is not known to be the first industry to adopt to new technologies for communications, such adoption is inevitable. This eventually will also extend to 5G, as in the not-too-distant future 5G use cases are expected to impact the energy industry.

Ceragon’s specialized Kinetics solutions deliver reliable, turnkey wireless communications for moving onshore/offshore assets and harsh environments. By leveraging Ceragon’s global leadership in 5G wireless hauling, the Kinetics solutions offer the utmost safety, reliability, capacity, range, rapid deployment, and cost-effectiveness. Ceragon delivers a complete portfolio of turnkey end-to-end solutions that ensure efficient rollout and optimization to achieve the highest value for you.

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