Etherstack Case Study
In October 2011, following on from Etherstack’s successful province wide 82 site P25 trunked network deployment for ATCO Electric in Alberta, Canada, Etherstack was selected by Ergon Energy to supply a statewide communications network spanning all of Queensland outside Brisbane and surrounds.
Ergon Energy operates the Queensland regional electricity network, distributing energy to hundreds of thousands of customers across the state, from urban centres to remote communities in the outback and Torres Strait.
Ergon required a robust, fault tolerant digital P25 trunked communications system that would provide 24/7 continuity of service during Queensland’s extreme weather events, such as cyclones and flooding. Support for simultaneous transport of location data, mission-critical voice and duress reporting was essential to operate their vast electrical distribution network and to ensure Ergon’s field staff were safe at all times.
As delivery prime and system integrator, Etherstack analysed Ergon needs and advised on available digital standards, solutions, suppliers and technology. On award, Etherstack integrated the company’s digital P25 infrastructure to multiple third-party vendor solutions to execute the full suite of required end-to-end services.
Three months after award in January 2012, the high level design and roll out plan was complete. The initial P25 core network was deployed into Ergon data centres by May 2012, and by December 2012 the first 20 digital P25 trunked sites in the Toowoomba region were commissioned. Over the subsequent several years, more than 80 additional sites were added to the network, spanning Queensland from top to bottom.
Etherstack developed an innovative application known as the LOC (Local Operations Console) which harvests AVL data from the Etherstack Location Services Centre (LSC) GIS database and overlays this on Ergon’s Google Earth database. The LOC also allows Ergon to add other layers of information, such as fault alerting from their network outage system.
In 2019, Ergon/Energex asked Etherstack to add an additional eight trunked P25 sites to the network to provide coverage in the Brisbane and south east Queensland region, completing the overall build to 115 sites. This makes it the largest P25 network in Australia by geographic coverage – and one of the largest in the world.
Etherstack always innovates. The Ergon system included the world’s first implementation of the APCO P25 Tier 2 location services standard. Tier 2 location services provide significantly better location performance than the Tier 1 location services normally deployed by other vendors, allowing comprehensive real-time location monitoring of field staff undertaking hazardous maintenance in remote areas.
The system was also one of the first multi-RFSS core networks in the world to support both the P25 ISSI and CSSI inter-system interface standards. These allow field staff to roam from one region of Queensland to another and still communicate with their home command and control and location services network elements.
The successful deployment of Ergon led to further large Etherstack system awards in the electric utilities sector including Allegheny Power, MonPower & New Jersey Central Power & Light along the east coast of the United States.