Low cost flexible communications



The Energy Innovation Centre (EIC) works in partnership with UK Electricity, Gas and Water Distribution Network Operators to help them identify solutions to specific issues & challenges. Over the next few months and following the publication of the Industry Gas Network Innovation Strategy in March 2018, the EIC will be highlighting priority innovation needs to Innovators.


DISCLAIMER: This is not a tendering exercise and as such does not guarantee either a project or product sales.  This is a market research exercise on behalf of the EIC’s distribution network operator partners seeking potential solutions/alternative products in which the networks may see benefit over existing methods.


Electricity Network Innovation Strategy reference



Specific innovation need


Telecommunications are a fundamental part of an efficient modern Distribution Network Operator (DNO) and are a critical part of protection, monitoring and control systems. As DNOs ambitions are now focused on becoming Distribution System Operators (DSOs), it is imperative that cost effective, robust and reliant communications are available to facilitate this transformation.


DNOs currently use a variety of telecommunications solutions in the day to day running of their business’, but these are often over specified and expensive. The technologies used can be anything from fibre optic, microwave, GSM or PTSN and the service can be company owned or provided by a third party.


Potential solutions could either maximise the use of existing infrastructure (e.g. radio) or propose alternative novel technologies.


Desired outcome


  • A low cost and flexible telecommunication solution to help Distribution Network Operators realise the potential of Distribution System Operation (including facilitating automation).


The network operators are open to ideas and approaches to solve this challenge.


Applicants are advised to familiarise themselves with previous NIA and NIC projects and ensure that their proposal does not duplicate work previously carried out.


Process for submitting proposals


Focus period for this innovation need: 10 July 2018 – 17 August 2018

Deadline for responses: 17 August 2018

Notification of next steps (for applications made within focus period): 05 September 2018


Find out more here


To make a submission, please complete the following online form





  • A brief description of the proposed solution, including relevant technical details
  • A description of the proposed solution's features/properties that uniquely differentiates this solution
  • How do you envisage your proposal progressing e.g. a trial, an innovation project etc.?
    Please only select one option
  • Please see link below for definition of TRL
  • TRL Definition
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