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Faultless Communication for the Rockies

Netcontrol has provide to be another winning formula for wireless communication in the USA with one of their latest partnerships with Gunnison County Electric in Colorado. Netcontrol was requested to provide their latest Radius PDR 221 data radio to the electrical co-operative to retrieve and/or “backhaul” revenue metering data to their main office with the highest level of accuracy possible.

History of Gunnison

Gunnison County Electric was started in 1938 by a group of local business people, land owners and ranchers. It has been a member owned and member controlled cooperative since the beginning. Gunnison serves almost 9,000 meters in six different districts with almost 1,000 miles of line.


Wide Area Coverage

Gunnison County Electric is located approximately 200 miles southwest of Denver, CO, in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. The challenge was to wirelessly communicate with the Alkalai substation located at an elevation near 9,000 feet above sea level and approximately 20 miles from the office. Other power companies have been forced to use satellite communications to retrieve data from this site and the costs for satellite equipment can run as much as seven times the cost of Netcontrol radios as satellite service comes with a monthly service charge.

Satellite service simply did not fit into the budget Gunnison had assigned to this project.

Seamless Communication

Gunnison turned to Netcontrol for more cost effective yet very accurate performance solution. With their wireless data radios, such as the Radius PDR 221 which, provides seamless communication without the need for leased lines or expensive monthly charges. The radios were seen as the perfect match for not only the harsh environment in which the telemetry needs to be attained from but also a perfect match for cost objectives for the project.

Total Integration

Gunnison County Electric installed Radius PDR 221 radios to backhaul data for an AMR system purchased from TWACS by DCSI. The purpose of which was to transmit the daily accumulated meter reading from the Alkalai substation to the office. The Radius PDR 221 is seen as the critical link for this daily metering data and power quality information.

Gunnison County can now retrieve this information without the high cost of satellite service or sending a technician to the top of the mountain.

Repeater Functionality

Netcontrol was able to install the Radius PDR 221 radios using a repeater on Comstock Mountain and backhaul the AMR data on a daily basis. One of the many benefit which Gunnison Electrical liked about the Radius PDR 221 was its in-built collision management system and Forward Error Correction (FEC) facility which improves the quality of the transmission between communication points over other data transmission products. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Rocky Mountains.

Transparent Protocols

Along with the other features the Radius PDR 221 has advances digital radio technology such as point-to-multipoint, point-to-point and peer-to-peer communication for both VHF/ UHF bands. This was of particular importance in the scheme as the great distances involved in transmission allowed Gunnison Electric to buy fewer product with the same effect of more cumbersome and expensive alternatives. The wide area coverage is still further improved when you consider that the Radius PDR 221 is transparent and protocol independent. Which means that each master radio can handle up to 255 slaves and because of that fact the radio does not buffer messages; the transmitted information is handled fast and effective.

Rocky Ferran one of the staff engineers comments; “The PDR has built-in test functions for commissioning and is easy to use and configure. This is of great benefit to us as rapid weather changes in the Rockies makes time critical”.