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Need to know how to choose a SCADA radio?  Is your need mission critical or life safety?  Serial or Ethernet? 1MBPS or 9600BPS?  These are key design questions and really are driven by importance factor and over the air payload data bandwidth requirements.  DN3P or polling protocols typically keep the demand for high bandwidth payload data rates reasonable, but these requirements are all predictable by way of design calculations. 

Think SCADA over cellular is the 5G holy land for your mission critical network, consider the potential down sides.  Cellular infrastructure is an early target of nation state cyber warfare.  Cellular is not a private autonomous network.  With cellular you are dependent of ma bell telephone and they are now your business partner.  Consider the number of devices that have to work flawlessly in order for your data to get through.  Tower site; power systems, microwave or fiber back haul communications circuits, and cell antenna systems, Mobile Telephone Switching Office (MTSO); power systems, microwave or fiber back haul communications circuits, routers, internet infrastructure; power systems, fiber communications circuits, network routers and more.  All of this gear has to work to get your data transported.  It's also vulnerable to hackers both foreign and domestic and now your network is too. 
Article from Wired Magazine on Cyber war.

"In the beginning" SCADA then known as "telemetry" were all serial technology 300-1200 bits per second and bell 202 standard modems were the most common for the transportation of data.  These modems could be used to connect via radio link or those poor and expensive leased telco lines.  Today we have a vast variety of communications technology at our disposal, but there are pros and cons of each to consider.  For example we use radio to talk to distant remote probes in space and these radio communication paths are extremely long, so we know technology exists for the long distance line of sight radio paths.  For example; we are still in communication to Voyager 2 space probe at 465 million kilometers (288,938,000 miles)away from Earth.  Our SCADA projects have limitations; maximum antenna height, cost, and the aesthetics of the antennas profile often drive the choice of which radio communication technology we can practically implement.

Over the air bandwidth and range has an inverse relationship, the more bandwidth required the less radio range we can expect in the radio link to have.  The less far we can communicate. These larger bandwidth paths require less obstructions, this is evident in the license free radios that provide 100 KBPS or more typically, ethernet capable and in the license free bands of 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, 3.65 GHz and 5.4-5.8 GHz spectrum, these links can communicate several miles in ideal condtions, but require an almost perfect visual line of site between the antenna systems of the radios, for extremely short paths there can be some exceptions to this idea.  The FCC licensed 150, 220, 408, 450, and 950 MHz telemetry / SCADA channels are geared for up to about 50 KBPS or less of over the air throughput but have the ability to penetrate non line of sight paths of over 20 miles are achievable.

The above paragraph underscores the need for a savvy radio system designer to be consulted when new SCADA radio system is proposed.  Experience is key and a design and test strategy is often the best strategy before building a mission critical SCADA operation.

Please browse this site, if you have any questions or a specific project you would like to discuss, please feel free to call on me, Mark Lavallee.  I truly enjoy sharing my 25+ years of specialized experience and knowledge.  My company is often called upon assist consultants, controls system integrators, and the end users.  We are highly specialized with tools and talent for evaluating troubles with existing SCADA systems, selecting the best SCADA radio technology for new systems, and provide design of the RF paths, including infield radios studies.

My phone number, 954 961 2642
or email:  mark.lavallee@advantage-com.com

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