#DataMustFall campaign highlights inequity

The #DataMustFall campaign is a grassroots movement on social media to draw attention to, and hopefully impact, the high cost of data in South Africa. Since 2016, consumers have been touting their dissatisfaction over the unfair expense of high data prices and the imbalanced effect it has on lower income community members.

In large urban centers, there is a competitive market of mobile networks that users can price shop between—including mobile, fixed-line and fiber—and a slew of internet service providers to choose from. Conversely, in less-connected communities where the majority of the population lives, connectivity is limited to mobile networks only.

The high cost of data in South Africa rivals the expense in comparative countries such as Nigeria and Egypt, and in bordering countries Malawi and Zambia. And it disproportionately impacts poorer individuals. Mobile providers bundle their data packages by size and charge more per MB for the smaller bundles. In this example, while a higher-income resident can buy 1GB of data at R149, the lower income resident has to buy it in smaller chunks to accommodate their available cash flow. So, instead they buy 100MB of data at R29 ten times. This means the lower income resident pays R290 for the same 1GB of data—almost double the price.

The movement has applied enough pressure to initiate parliamentary hearings on the topic and most recently, the attention of South Africa’s President Ramaphosa who is planning to license spectrum in a process to promote competition, transformation, inclusive growth of the sector and universal access. “This is a vital part of bringing down the costs of data, which is essential both for economic development and for unleashing opportunities for young people,” he said, then calling on “the telecommunications industry further to bring down the cost of data so that it is in line with other countries in the world”.

At Delta, we believe internet access should be accessible and affordable for all, and are proud that our Delta Smart Grid Network can help facilitate that. To learn more about our offering, check out this section of our website.

The promises of Wi-Fi 6

The next generation Wi-Fi standard, IEEE 802.11ax—branded by the Wi-Fi Alliance as “Wi-Fi 6”—promises faster connections and better performance.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the world’s largest association of technical professionals focused on the educational and technical advancement of electrical and electronic engineering, telecommunications, computer engineering and allied disciplines. Within IEEE, the Standards Association (IEEE-SA) develops global standards in a broad range of industries, including: power and energy, information technology, telecommunications, and many more. These standards are developed in an open and fair manner that taps the consensus of technical experts from all over the world. One standard in particular, 802.11, is for wireless networking—also known as “Wi-Fi.”

To date, there have been several iterations of the Wi-Fi standards used across various industries, the most recent standard being developed is Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax). Wi-Fi 6 networks will provide the capacity, coverage and performance required by users, even when networks are congested with many connected devices. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, the main benefits of this next generation technology will include: higher data rates, increased capacity, improved performance in environments with many connected devices, and improved power efficiency.

It’s important to note that these standards are not yet complete. While pieces have been shared as drafts, IEEE has not published the final versions. Consequently, any device claiming to be based on 802.11ax or to support Wi-Fi 6 in the market now, is based on draft standards which may still change.

Also important, not everyone will see the change in network capability. As always, both the device sending the Wi-Fi signal and the device receiving the Wi-Fi signal need to support the standard in order to actually experience the advantages. For example, if both your wireless router and your device, let’s say a tablet, support Wi-Fi 6, you’ll be able to capitalize on the more advanced network. If, however, your router supports Wi-Fi 6 but your device doesn’t, like a laptop you own today, then you’ll be limited to the Wi-Fi experience supported by the device.  This being true, backwards capability will surely be built into networking products supporting Wi-Fi 6, ensuring that legacy devices will continue to function within the execution of this new protocol.

While the technology may not be fully available on the market today, the promises of what it will bring are certainly exciting!

Smart city executions need centralized infrastructure

The global trend toward smart cities continues to rise. The benefits of incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT) into city-wide infrastructure are widely agreed. The best path to converting a city into a smart city though, is more variable. Solution providers presenting different strategies, approaches and techniques vie for the attention of city decision-makers. One thing they all have in common, is the importance of city-wide network to support the IoT devices that make a city smarter.

Only with a singular, scalable network that is not bandwidth limited to form the backbone, will a smart city execution truly yield its highest potential. Being able to use different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information then used to manage assets and resources efficiently is critical. With a singular network, like the Delta Smart Grid Network, it’s possible.

Delta’s solution taps the same strategy as today’s smart phones which innovatively joined multiple purposeful products into one exceptionally capable device—it converges smart grid infrastructure, Wi-Fi mesh networking and consumer-facing digital devices into a singular, standardized and centralized smart city network solution. This resulting network becomes the communications infrastructure by which all IoT smart city devices can connect. Thus, opening the door for an efficient and effective smart city solution.

What shaped the industry in 2018?

In January, I shared Delta’s Industry Outlook for 2018 noting changes and innovations that we expected to see shaping our industry. In that post, I wrote about how:

  • The use of asset performance management will continue to grow.
  • Solutions for grid and utility cybersecurity will be top of mind.
  • Emerging technologies like AR will continue to shape the workforce.
  • There will be an expansion of Wi-Fi and a greater proliferation of cloud-based networks.

Looking back on the year, let’s review how these key outlooks are driving the utility industry.


Asset performance management
As identified in T&D World’s recent article, Asset Performance Management Comes of Age, “Utilities that have invested in digitizing their grid have positioned themselves to reap significant rewards as a result.” Asset performance management will enable a utility to rationally prioritize capital planning for aging asset replacement.

Further, collaborations like the recent one between Siemens and Bentley Systems show how those in the utility industry can benefit from asset performance management and how APM may evolve to include predictive analytics, necessary for pre-emptive asset actions, in addition to monitoring current performance.


Cybersecurity has remained top-of-mind, but as noted in a recent Smart Energy International article, a persistent attacker will eventually breach critical control systems. The article goes on to discuss the rising threats in utility cybersecurity and offers these important notes:

  1. Insist on systems that require more than a promise and a “handshake.”
  2. Be dynamic rather than static or reactive regarding cybersecurity.
  3. Cybersecurity can always be improved.

At Delta, we’re aligned with these viewpoints and that’s why we’ve made sure our Delta Smart Grid Network (DSGN) conforms with the latest security protocols to protect network access and data integrity, from the point of device registration through the catalog and retention of cloud-based storage.


Augmented Reality
According to ABI Research, total AR market revenues for the energy and utilities industry are expected to grow to US$18 billion by 2022, with platform and licensing, and smart glasses hardware comprising the majority.

Further, a recent Electric Light & Power article, Today’s Reality, Augmented Reality: Improving Field Worker Efficiency, Security and Quality, notes the following:

The maturing and integration of smart glasses, wireless communication, mobile devices and augmented reality software is opening up new solutions to age-old problems that utility operations managers and their field crews encounter every day, such as:

  • An expansive set of field assets that make it difficult for field technicians to be experts with all equipment, increasing maintenance time and exposing potential safety challenges.
  • Lack of time and qualified inspectors to complete the number of required inspections.
  • Safety risks due to lack of experience with the broad array of tools and assets.
  • Pressure to reduce costs while improving restoration times.
  • Inability to easily record field work for further evaluation, inspection, and training.
  • Loss of institutional knowledge due to retirements or attrition.

We at Delta embraced this technology through the development of our PowerVISR™ hardware.  We strongly believe that customer-centric, future hardware platforms will follow this increasing trend for augmented reality integration.  You may read more about how AR is solving utility issues, here.


Wi-Fi and cloud-based networks
According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, “Wi-Fi is the most commonly used wireless communications technology; the primary medium for global internet traffic; a driver of nearly $2 trillion in global economic value; and growing, with 3 billion devices shipping in 2018 and 9 billion devices in use.”

Additionally, through Wi-Fi Offload mobile operators are able to relieve the congested mobile data networks with additional capacity from unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum. This allows them to facilitate combined carrier-class Wi-Fi and mobile services and profit from offering customers a vast service improvement with convenient ‘always-on’ data connectivity.


Delta’s technology and business model aggressively supports all three noted principles; Wi-Fi proliferation, Wi-Fi offload and cloud-based networks. Our unique Wi-Fi enabled Delta Smart Grid Network unleashes the power of a truly connected smart city, embracing the most commonly used wireless communications technology, while delivering Internet wherever there is power.

Augmented Reality for Electrical Utilities

A utility field technician’s day is filled with frequent stopping and starting to access and assess the distribution system—and the utility bears the burden of what happens when resources get stretched too thin. How can it make sure that the right data is available to the right person, in the right format and at the right time and place in order for the insights from that data to provide practical value? One way is to bring augmented reality (AR) tools to the utility’s field force. By equipping field personnel with AR tools, utilities can streamline things like asset health assessments, service documentation review, repair requirement summaries, repair qualification activities, work order prioritization, location routing and more.

One example of using AR to improve efficiencies is demonstrated in a 2017 proof of concept between the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Duke Energy which tested the use of augmented reality in assessing storm damage. In the project, field workers wore a heads-up display (HUD) units incorporating a monocular screen that provided key information to keep assessments accurate and consistent. This screen overlaid information on the user’s field of view, enhancing their capability to real-time visualize actionable date on that subject matter at hand. The field crews were very positive about their experience and Duke Energy calculated that for a typical, 4-day outage impacting 250,000 customers, using AR would save around 12 hours of restoration time—or $8.25M for customers with an average power consumption of 900kWh per month.

Another way AR could be used is for general servicing and repair. Augmented reality would be able to overlay key performance data into the field of vision for a service technician allowing him or her to immediately assess the health of an asset. For example, being able to see the load, temperature and oil level of a transformer simply by looking up at it with an AR device would expedite identification of any issues. This AR capability would instantly allow a field technician to prioritize service actions against multiple assets within their field of view, all without opening, powering and inquiring using traditional keyboard centric field devices.

It’s important to note, according to EPRI’s 2018 literature review of human factors issues in the Electric Power Industry, there is still a shortage of human factors and occupational safety research for AR devices. Therefore, guidelines for the appropriate amount of time for safe and effective AR usage are lacking. This being true, as the technology progresses and electric utilities continue to experiment with using it more information will become available and, similar to other adjacent markets, we anticipate pick-up in adoption of this exciting user interface methodology.

Connected Societies

We know that access to the internet has the capability to economically propel communities around the world, as my colleagues previously shared regarding emerging markets and rural America. But how do we take that access and convert it from individual use to a truly connected society? The community in Delft, South Africa provides us with an example.

The Delft government and the Mzansi Digital Republic (MDR) are working to implement public Wi-Fi to boost the local economy. MDR’s aim is to create digital citizens with the vision of unlocking the knowledge-based economy. To do that, they consider a multi-faceted approach to power, IoT infrastructure and internet access, connected devices, online community, e-commerce, and online support. Through their disruptive model of realigning the value chain of consumption and actualizing new opportunities for business, employment and social engagement, MDR is connecting the society in Delft in ways that haven’t been done before. As a result, local tech businesses have grown, generating local employment, facilitating digital commerce and ushering in local economic empowerment, thereby preventing a large amount of money from trickling out of the community.

In general, connected societies like the one developing in Delft will open opportunities for more collective action in regards to single-issue movements, while open government initiatives and access to public sector data will lead to more transparency and citizen-focused public services. The critical backbone to a connected society is a robust communications infrastructure that can support the required level of community connectivity. The Delta Smart Grid Network comes to mind as a solution—it fills in the gaps left by current telecommunications providers through the building of a community-wide Wi-Fi infrastructure.

Distributed Energy Resources

Distributed Energy Resources (DER) are small, grid-connected devices that locally generate and store electricity. Unlike conventional power stations that require electricity to be transmitted over long distances, DER systems are located close to the load they serve (often behind the meter) and are more modular and flexible. Increasingly operated in the context of a microgrid, DER may lower environmental impacts and improve the security of electrical supply.

As with everything, DER pose both pros and cons. From a benefit standpoint, potential cost savings to customers, a reduction in emissions when moving away from traditionally-used fossil fuels, and greater control by consumers of their own power lead the list. While the main challenge includes reductions in utility revenue, as the amount of electricity distributed by power plants lessens while the plants’ operating utilities still must invest in the infrastructure to maintain the grid.

As DER becomes a more significant percentage of the energy supply, reliable communications will be required to monitor and effectively use these resources. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, unlike today’s one-directional system, the energy flow to accommodate DER will be multi-directional (i.e. utility to home, home to utility, home to home) making effective communications technologies and analytical systems critical in these applications. Some experts have suggested that AMI systems currently in development will be able to support the integration of DER into the grid, for instance through the use of ZigBee or other Home Area Network (HAN) technologies. However, we know these technologies to be limiting in certain capacities.

An alternative approach to communications for DER is to incorporate them into the Delta Smart Grid Network (DSGN). As an advanced smart grid and analytics hardware/software solution that is more inclusive and scalable than competing systems, the DSGN provides unparalleled data collection and delivery opportunities that make it possible to deliver and receive user data wherever there is electricity. The bi-directional nature of the DSGN™ enables the incorporation of DER while maximizing network capabilities and providing broadband internet access to consumers of electricity.

Industry Outlook for 2018

With the start of an exciting New Year, what changes and innovations can we expect to see shaping our industry? Let’s review some of our key outlooks and what we’re projecting will drive utilities in 2018:

Use of asset performance management will continue to grow
We saw the use of asset performance management growing in 2017, and that will only continue into 2018. The majority of utilities will be using some form of APM innovations and tools to manage their critical operational assets to help improve operational performance – as well as their customer’s experience. In fact, a recent IDC report, “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Utilities 2018 Predictions” echoes this, indicating that as many as 75 percent of gas, water, and electric utilities will have implemented APM by 2019.

Solutions for grid and utility cybersecurity will be top of mind
With the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the wide variety of devices and products that are now vulnerable to cyber-attacks, cybersecurity was increasingly a topic of concern for utilities in 2017. A report from Accenture, “Outsmarting Grid Security Threats,” showed that 76 percent of North American utility executives believe their country faces at least a moderate risk of electricity supply interruption from a cyber attack on electric distribution grids in the next five years. That focus will only grow in 2018, with utilities modifying their approaches to security to include both cybersecurity and physical security solutions, as well as privacy and data protection. Deloitte’s latest “2018 outlook on power and utilities” indicates this as well, with utilities increasingly working together and with the U.S. government to detect, prevent, and prepare for these risks.

Emerging technologies like AR will continue to shape the workforce
“Big data” has been the buzz word for utilities for some time now, but the next step moving into 2018 will be making that data available to the right people at the right time using new, emerging and immersive technologies. Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and even mixed reality (MR) will start to play a more important role in the utility landscape, especially from a safety, speed and efficiency perspective. This article in POWERGRID International provides a key use case in the situation of a utility responding to an outage with a professional “on the ground” at that location. The lineman would be able to use a mobile tablet to capture images of the damaged equipment and, with AR, an overlay of data would show everything from product number to maintenance history. This capability will help utilities to expedite repairs and restore power more quickly than the typical manual response.

Expansion of Wi-Fi and the greater proliferation of cloud-based networks
Many of us are accustomed to the regular advancement of Wi-Fi technology in our consumer lives. With 2018 we’ll see a continued advance in enterprise Wi-Fi and industrial applications. The focus will be reviewing and, in some cases, implementing the latest IEEE protocol, which includes MU-MIMO, or multi-user multiple-input, multiple-output technology, and 802.11ac. Furthermore, we’ll continue to see a shift toward cloud-based networks that can reduce operating expenses and improve reliability and availability. This article in Network World further forecasts the specifications and expected trends in networking.

Readers, do you agree with some of these outlooks for 2018? Share your thoughts and questions with us here.

Cybersecurity for the Next Generation Smart Grid

Increased connectivity enabled by the smart grid is driving significant benefits in the form of improved quality of service and operational efficiencies, but it’s also opening up the doors for greater cybersecurity risks for utilities.

Those risks are increasingly top of mind for utility executives around the world. In fact, according to a recent report from Accenture, almost two-thirds (63 percent) of utility executives believe their country faces at least a moderate risk of electricity supply interruption from a cyber attack on electric distribution grids in the next five years. This figure rises to 76 percent for North American utility executives alone.

In this modern day digital landscape, ensuring full security and resiliency of the smart grid is a growing challenge – particularly given the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the wide variety of devices and products that are now vulnerable to attackers. At the same time, utilities require technologies that support an increasing variety of electrical services and applications, but many of those technologies – such as 802.15.4g, Zigbee (6LoWPAN), and Broadband over Power Line (BPL) – have latency issues, limited scalability, in some cases low bandwidth and other limitations, making them difficult to administer, monitor and maintain.

Whether it’s interruptions to the power supply from cyberattacks, or a physical threat to the distribution grid, only 6 percent of utility executives feel extremely well-prepared when it comes to restoring normal grid operations following a cyberattack. So, how can utilities boost their confidence and ensure their security measures are meeting the needs of the rapidly-changing digital landscape and the next generation smart grid? To maximize the full capability of the grid, utilities must invest in effective response and recovery capabilities, as well as the overall resilience of the grid.

For example, the Delta Smart Grid Network (DSGN™), with its Wi-Fi-based WWAN mesh network, brings real-time data capability and active IoT device integration wherever there is electricity. The network provides multiple-level security with device and end-point MAC ID authentication, WPA2 password protection and encrypted cloud storage with SSL certificate service access, providing industry-leading device and Wi-Fi-centric protection.

As the combination of physical and cyber threats continues to grow, we at Delta are leading the charge to prepare utilities to strengthen their resiliency and bolster their responsiveness with the next generation smart grid.

Click here to learn more about the DSGN™, and share your thoughts and questions with us here.

Delta Energy & Communications Signs Collaboration Agreement with Mzansi Digital Republic Trust

Collaboration will facilitate widespread access to the Internet to support the advancement of underserved populations in South Africa

Murrieta, CA – October 2, 2017Delta Energy & Communications, a network, smart grid, and big data company focused on providing connectivity around the globe, today announced the signing of a Collaboration Agreement with the Mzansi Digital Republic Trust, a South African non-profit organization whose mission is to extend Internet connectivity to underserved populations. Under the Agreement, the parties will work together to facilitate improvements to the energy infrastructure in South Africa, while simultaneously providing Wi-Fi connectivity. The signing of the Agreement took place at a public event at Mzansi Digital Republic in Delft, a township outside Cape Town, on Tuesday, September 26, 2017. The parties expect that extending Internet access in Delft will be initial focus of their joint efforts.

“We are excited and proud to be collaborating with Mzansi Digital Republic,” said Scott M. Foster, President and CEO of Delta Energy & Communications. “With our Delta Smart Grid Network comes not only a ubiquitous Wi-Fi network, but also an advanced smart grid solution to optimize grid efficiency, smart metering, and grid analytics—with the ability to enable real-time energy theft detection.”

The Agreement supports Mzansi Digital Republic’s continuing efforts to develop initiatives to boost Wi-Fi connectivity to Delft’s population of over 420,000 people and beyond. The Agreement will facilitate broader distribution of the Delta Smart Grid Network (DSGN), a pioneering Wi-Fi-based wireless wide area network (WWAN) that delivers Wi-Fi connectivity to the populations served by utilities, and creates opportunities for IoT engagement by telecommunications partners and OEMs.

“The Delta solution provides the opportunity to bring connectivity within reach, and in so doing, bring the requisite capacity to promote active citizenry,” said Pastor Charles George, Executive Chairperson of Mzansi Digital Republic. “With the DSGN we can realize Mzansi’s vision of a smart township—where all municipal services are integrated to enable government and residents alike to address developmental challenges, and ultimately bridge the digital divide.”

In addition to enabling increased connectivity, it is the parties’ hope that the Agreement will result in opportunities for job creation with respect to the installation and servicing of the DSGN.

Foster concluded, “We look forward to working with Mzansi Digital Republic to empower communities to join us in our passion for connectivity.”

For more information on Delta Energy & Communications, please visit www.deltaglobalnetwork.com, and connect with us on LinkedIn and Facebook.


About Delta Energy & Communications
Delta Energy & Communications is a network, smart grid and big data company that provides a transformative technology to connect millions around the globe. Delta’s novel approach brings connective technology to developing regions wherever there is electricity. In doing so, it helps utilities realize the benefits of data analytics. Delta’s core values of dignity, empowerment, transparency and innovation are the foundation for working with its partners and improving the communities it serves. Delta is headquartered in Murrieta, California and has offices in Cape Town, South Africa. For more information, please visit www.deltaglobalnetwork.com.

About Mzansi Digital Republic Trust
Mzansi Digital Republic Trust was founded by Home of Compassion, a non-profit organization focused on holistic human capital development in disadvantaged communities, and I.C.E Media Group, a company focused on using media and technology as an empowerment tool to the masses. In 2014, Home of Compassion partnered with the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism to implement part of their Broad Band Strategy of free basic Wi-Fi in Delft and surrounding communities with huge success. As phase two of this initiative, Home of Compassion and its partners built an economic model focused on digitization that birthed Mzansi Digital Republic.