After deferring investment for several years, national grid operator Transpower is rebooting plans to refresh its private network, TransGo.
TransGo is the telecommunications network that underpins all of the network communications used by Transpower, including industry-specific critical services such as protection signalling, SCADA and operational voice as well as other enterprise ICT services.
One of largest private telco network in New Zealand, TransGo uses buried optical fibre augmented by microwave radio for communications between substations and other Transpower sites.
Dubbed the "TransGo Refresh Programme", the network renewal is now in its early procurement phase with the project expected to conclude in 2025/26.
Transpower posted an invitation to participate (ITP) in the project on Wednesday on the Government Electronic Tenders website seeking an integrator and equipment suppliers who wished to be considered for pre-qualification and to receive further documents.
"The ITP is the first step of Transpower’s procurement process, rather than a market research tool or solely a notice of upcoming tenders," the notice explained.
Subsequent phases of the procurement would then be conducted through a closed competitive process involving pre-qualified respondents.
The build of TransGo started in 2008 and it was completed in 2015. Since then, the network had been extended to provide capacity and reach into Northland and the West Coast and to connect new grid exit and injection points.
The TransGo network is also relatively unusual for a transmission service operator in that it was converged, supporting both operational technology and information technology services.
Transpower needed to maintain a dedicated network to support its mission critical line protection services which protect its high voltage transmission lines using industry specific protection signalling protocols and legacy equipment not normally used in telecommunications networks.
Some of that equipment had also reached or was reaching end-of-life.
"Investing in line with the industry trend of moving to proven packet-based technology over fibre will provide equipment that is readily available, use modern protocols, be future-proof and have a roadmap in line with Transpower’s future requirements while leveraging the existing fibre optic network," the ITP said.
It was also Transpower’s ambition to increase digitisation, enhance mobility and to use cloud services, including increasing visibility of the grid through high-resolution and real-time information.
In 2018, the state owned enterprise planned expenditure on TransGo of approximately $49 million between 2020 and 2025, well below investment of $65 million during the previous five year period.
This was because major investment in the network had been deferred until after 2025. The $49 million forecast reflected "lifecycle replacements" of core network services while other telco network providers were to be used for corporate data traffic.