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Optimization of Smart Grid Communication

Network in a Het-Net Environment Using a
Cost Function
Vahid Kouhdaragh
Abstract In Smart Grids (SG), the heterogeneous nodes composing the SG structure should communicate different types of
information with specific requirements to the Control Stations. A heterogeneous wireless network is generally composed by
several Radio Access Technologies (RATs) with different Quality of Service characteristics, able for fulfilling the SG nodes
communication requirements. Wireless communications have lots of advantages for implementing a communication network for
SGs, however, spectrum is getting scarce due to its significant request. Therefore, resource allocation for supporting different
types of SG nodes communication requirements should be performed in order to maximize the resource efficiency while the SG
requirements are respected. A cost function is proposed based on the SG node requirements and RATs characteristics for
setting the desirability value of all the RATs for a certain node type, aiming at assigning the certain percentage of nodes to the
RATs. Two major node communication requirements, namely data rate and delay, are considered in this paper. The numerical
results demonstrate that the proposed method allows knowing the desirability value of each RAT for a certain SG node type that
helps to setup a heterogeneous network by assigning a certain percentage of a certain SG node type to the different RATs.
Index TermsSmart Grid; Resource Allocation, Node Assigning, Cost Function, Communication Requirements, Spectral
Efficiency, Reliable and Secure Based Communication Network


HE efficiency of the conventional power grids due to

its one direction data flow, from Control Station (CS)
to the other part is low. Moreover, different part of
the SG cannot communicate with each other to lower
power consumption and outages. Therefore, a new
scheme has been introduced: the Smart Grids (SGs) [1,2].
A SG is composed of different types of the nodes, whose
number is always increasing. The nodes report grid
related issues information such as dynamic consumption
costs and controlling commands information to the CS
through the collectors or aggregators for being analyzed
(i.e., on demands responses) [3,4]. Then, the demand
responses are sent back to the SG devices. Each SG node
type, including cluster of nodes, has different
communication requirements. Since most of the single
node in a SG node type usually generate low data size,
their communication types can be considered as a
Machine to Machine (M2M) communication [1,5]. The
collected information in collectors or aggregators is
usually transferred to the CS by using the Radio Access
Technologies (RATs) [1, 4].
Among several communication accesses, wireless
communications are considered more useful for Smart
Grid Communication Network (SGCN) [1,4], for their
inherit advantages in terms of many issues such as
flexibility and availability in several areas. However, due
to this reason that SG has diverse node types with the

Vahid Kouhdaragh is with the Dept. Electrical, Electronic and Information

Engineering, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

different communications requirements, designing a

SGCN with respect to the wireless technologies
characteristics become an important issue [1-3].
Due to the increasing number of deployed SG nodes,
the resources request is increased [1-3]. Thus, spectrum
scarcity is gaining an increased interest in the research
area, in particular when applied to M2M applications
(which are increasing tremendously), such as SGCN [1, 5].
Hence, it is very important to find proper solutions for an
efficient allocation of the limited wireless resources while
respecting SGCN requirements.
The scope of this paper is to design a method for
properly allocating the communication resources of
heterogeneous RATs to the different SG node types
having different communication requirements. In
particular, we focus on two main communication
requirements, namely latency and data rate [1, 6]. On one
hand, we aim at respecting different SG node types
required data rate and delay sensitivity to be fulfilled
while we focus on a solution that allows reducing the
resource wastage by limiting the allocation of
unnecessary resources to the SG node types.
As an example, it is better that the nodes having lower
delay sensitivity requirements being supported by RATs
communications. Thus, it results in leaving the RATs
spectrum with lower latencies to support the nodes
having a higher delay sensitivity [1,6].

To this aim, a properly designed cost function is

proposed point toward at selecting the priority of each
available RATs for the different SG nodes. The CF allows
defining the desirability values of each different RAT that
supporting a certain SG node type. Then, a certain
percentage of the each type of SG nodes is assigned to
different RATs based on the calculated desirability value.
The proposed method is very efficient with respect to
other methods by allowing reducing the complexity while
considering different communication requirements.
Moreover, node assessing method is done based on the
node communication requirements fitting value with the
RATs communication characteristics. This method is
discussed by details in this paper. To the best of our
knowledge, the other methods suggested in the literature
are not efficient in sense of node assigning to the RATs
because there is no introduced method to evaluate the
adoption between node communication requirements and
RATs features. Besides, there are no studies on simple
resource allocation methods for respecting the SGCN
requirements with the certain given constraints. Most of
these studies have been done regardless of considering
communication requirements [6,14-18].
Brief summaries of some of the mentioned works are
presented here.
The study at [15] presents the state-of-the-art methods
and the way that how to implement the SG
``Communications and Networks in Smart Grids`` of this
book a useful discussion including the RATs strategies for
practical SG deployments are discussed.
In [17] P. Rengaraju et al. have worked on the
communication requirements of distribution networks
using WiMAX RAT for SG communication network. The
two more appropriate RATs are considered as WiMAX
and LTE as they fulfill the communication requirements
of SG node types.
There is no assessment method to measure the
desirability value of RATs supporting different types of
SG node.
In [18] the studies have been focused just on
distributed energy resources and its components in
details. Still the lacking methodology to evaluate the
desirability value of the RATs for a certain node type in
SG is a matter of challenge.
To find a way to balance the traffic between networks
with respect to the nodes communication requirements
and RATs characteristics in an efficient way is presented
in this paper.

On the other hand, the proposed method allows

benefiting of installing an efficient Het-Net [10], for
supporting a heterogeneous SG node types scenario.
In the next Sections, system models which include
the methodology and CF introduction and the required
KPIs definitions and proposed CF to define the
desirability values (section 2), node assigning method
based on the CF formula (section 3), our proposed
solution, numerical results (section 4) and conclusion
(section 5) are discussed respectively.


Defining a CF to find out the best matching degree

between one RAT communication characteristics and one
SG node type communication requirements is the tool we
propose to use for evaluating the desirability value of
each RAT that supports a certain SG node type. The node
assignment percentage to each RATs is achieved respect
to the obtained CF values [1,3].
The aim is to define a CF in a way that higher
values dedicate to lower desirability values and viceversa. Therefore, in this approach, the certain percentage
of the certain SG nodes type are assigned to the different
RATs with respect to the RATs desirability value (which
are achieved by using the proposed CF) for the certain
type of the SG node. Reliability and security issues are
assumed to be guaranteed by the network. Therefore, it is
assumed that even RAT types being changed, still the
minimum requirements of SG node type in sense of
reliability and security are fulfilled (these issues are not
discussed in this paper).
The CF two main Key Performance Indicators
(KPIs) are data rate and delay [19]. The CF`s KPIs is
composed of two main parts: weights and normalized
values. They are defined in a way that the higher weights
or normalized values cause to increase the CF values.
Higher CF values result in a lower desirability and vice
versa. CF numerical formula is defined that its value is
between 0 and 1.
At the first step, the CF value for all available
RATs for a certain SG node type are calculated (based on
the SG node type communication requirements and RATs
communication characteristics).
Then the desirability values of each RAT to support the
mentioned SG node type are calculated. Now, based on
the achieved desirability values, the certain percentage of
the certain node type are assigned to different RATs.


The SG Communication Requirements

There are different types of SG node types, each one

with different functionalities and communications
requirements. Herein, the most important SG node types
are presented by describing their main characteristics.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is a set of SMs,
communications networks, and data managing systems,
to facilitate and enable SMs to have two-way
communications with the CS [6,11].
The Wide Area Situational Awareness (WASA) nodes
supervise the power system over a wide geographic area.
Thus, WASA has the important role in identifying SG
status and surveillances issues.
Distributed Energy Resources (DERS) are used to allows
the presence of renewable energy sources as one of the
main actor of the future SG to be integrated and unified
into the power grid structure [6,14-18]. The Plug in
Electrical Vehicle (PHEV) is useful for reducing
greenhouse gas emissions. The fossil fuel energy
dependency of the vehicles is decreased by using PHEV.
They can handle and present the useful information of the
electrical device charger for electrical vehicles. The
Distributed Grid Management (DGM) entity allows
utilities to remotely monitor and control the required
power grid parameters in the SG distribution network
Fig. 1 gives a depictive structure which is generally used
in SG.

Fig. 1. Smart Grid structure

Tab.1 gives a brief summary of the SG nodes
communications requirements in terms of data rate and
latency; while in the first two columns the values which
has been defined by the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC)
are presented [6]. In the two other columns the values
which are used in this paper are given. UTC has defined
such communication requirements based on detailed
studies for each Smart Grid application, by considering
an average number of each SG node types

communication requirements per branch of the SG

network [6].
Table 1. Communication requirements of SG nodes [1,6]










In which NT, RFDR, RFDE, SDR, SDE are the acronyms for
Node types, Reference Data Rate [kb/s], Reference Delay
[s], Selected Data Rate [kb/s] and Selected Delay[s]
respectively which are used in Simulations.

The Cost Function, Weights and Normalized
In order to allocate the RATs resources to the different
types of nodes in the SG effectively, a suitable CF is
introduced. It allows to manage the resource allocation
policy for different SG nodes types with different
communication requirements whose are supported by
different RATs [1,2,15].
As it was discussed before, to reach to these targets, it
is needed to determine the weights of KPIs, and their
normalized values (that are supported by a specific RAT).
For a certain scenario of a SG system including all
types of SG node, the nodes having the lower data rate
(while fulfilling SG system goals) are more favorable than
the other type of the SG nodes (with higher data rate),
thus they should have the lower weight values and vice
versa [1, 3]. To define the normalized value, a reference
BW is defined and the reference data rate for each
different RATs with different communications features
(proportional to the used BW in the mentioned RAT) are
considered. In the following step, the amount of data rate
that is required to respect the requirements of a certain
type of nodes is divided by each different RATs data rate
(for a certain reference BW in Hz).

The same policy is applied to evaluate the weight of

the latency based on the delay sensitivity of each type of
SG node [1,3].
Thus, the nodes with lower delay sensitivity have
lower weights since the nodes that can tolerate higher
delay are more desirable comparing with the nodes that
can just tolerate a lower delay. A basic CF for achieving
the goals can be defined as:
CF!" =

! !"#

!! !


Wqi . N!!"


i 1, , N and j 1, , F (N and F are the

number of SG node types and number of different RATs
respectively) where CF!" is the CF values of node type i
when the RAT j is used, N!"#! corresponds to the KPIs

number which are considered, W!! is the weight for the qth KPI for the i-th node type and N!!" is the normalized
value for the q-th KPI with mentioning to the i-th node
type and j-th RAT. Because in the following just only two

where PbpsNET! is the proportional data rate for a

certain fixed amount of BW in RAT j. For example, 5 MHz
generates different data rate in different RATs with
different modulation scheme (e.g., 103.6=36 Mbps in
LTE and 101.36 =13.6 Mbps in GSM) Table.2. The
latency weight for node i can be defined as (6):

KPIs have been considered, i.e., data rate and delay, (1)
can be alternated as:
CF!" =

!!"!" . !!"!" ! !!"#$% . !!"#$%

!" =



(!!"!" !!!"#$% )






where !" is the value for the node type when using
the RAT , !"!" and !"!" , are, respectively, the data rate
weight and normalized value for node type and RAT
type correspondingly, and !"#$%!" and !"#$%!" are the
delay weight and normalized value for node type and
RAT type , respectively. It should be mentioned that the
considered BW for every RATs is 5MHz (common used
BW). As it is obvious the weights for the KPIs of the
different node types are independent from RATs feature.
It is worth to notice that by using the introduced
method, the RATs with the latency closer to the delay
sensitivity of SG nodes has the lower delay normalized
values (are more desirable in sense of delay matching
between RAT latency and SG node delay sensitivity)
which results in lowering CF value. Consequently,
resources of RAT with lower latency can be allocated to
the nodes with the higher delay sensitivity requirement.
The characteristics of the RATs selected for this study are
brought in Tab. 2. Routing in mesh topology and several
numbers of routers may increase the latency in GSM
(using in our study) ,Table.2.

Table 2. RTT and Spectrum Efficiency for the three selected RATs

RTT (ms)

10-20 [7]



(Satellite) LEO

100-150 <

Spectrum Efficiency
Modulation)3.6 [8]


W!"#$%!" = 1



where NWLAT! is the maximum latency requirement for

node type i (the last column of the Tab.1) and MAX !"#$%
is the maximum value among NWLAT! .
MAX !"#$% = max {NWLAT! , , NWLAT! }
As mentioned before, the lowest CF value stands for a
more efficient allocation.
Thus, the node with the higher difference between the
delay requirements and the latency of the allocated RAT
has the higher weight. The normalized latency for node i,
when using the network j, can be defined as :
N!"#$%!" = 1



In which TotLat !" is overall latency value. Since RTTj is the

value for the round trip time for RAT j and TP is the
processing time that is considered as 5 msec [13], in the
following the overall latency value is defines as TotLat !"
equal to RTTj + TP. By exploiting (6.a,b), Fig.2 shows the
normalized delay as a function of RTT of RATs and the
SG node delay sensitivity. The communication networks
having the latency higher than the maximum delay
sensitivity of a certain SG node type are ignored since
they cannot satisfy (based on (7), the normalized value is
negative) the delay requirements of the SG node.

As Fig.2 shows, the normalized delay value is higher if

RTT and SG node delay sensitivity difference is higher
and vice versa. This issue helps to define the KPI in a way
that it would be preferable to allocate RATs with higher
RTT to a lower delay sensitivity SG node.
Besides, it can be seen that whenever the RTT of a certain
RAT is higher than SG node delay, its normalized value is
less than zero and will be excluded from the candidate
RATs to support the selected SG node type requirements.


The BW (or in here, data rate) weight for each node can be
defined as: W!"!" = !"

where R !" is the data rate required by the i-th node type,
and M, equal to max R !! , R !! , , R !" , is maximum rate
among all the SG node types.
Therefore, the nodes with the lowest data rate have
the lowest weight.
The normalized BW value for the node i in the network j
is: N!"!" =




Fig. 2. Delay Normalized value

Nodes Assigning Method

The desirability values of the RATs that support a

certain type of SG nodes can be calculated by using the

corresponding CF value, where the lowest CF value

causes to have the highest desirability value. Since the CF
values, whose range is between 0 and 1 give CF of each
RAT to support a specific node, thus a Het-Net can be
elaborated by using accessible RATs who are eligible to
support certain SG node type traffic requirements. As it
was discussed the higher CF value for a RAT that
supports a certain SG node types shows the worse
desirability value of the mentioned RATs for supporting
the mentioned node type and vice versa. Therefore,
respect to the achieved CF value for different RATs who
are supporting a certain node type (higher CF value is
less desirable and lower value are more favorable), the
desirability value of all RATs can be achieved for the
certain SG node type (by using the CF) as it can be seen in
(8). The certain percentage of SG node types are assigned
to each RATs based on the desirability values. Thus the
operation to achieve node assigning percentage from the
desirability values by using the CF values can be driven
as following by using (2) and (3):

!" =

! (!!!" )


! !" . ! !" ! ! !"#$% . ! !"#$%

(! !" !! !"#$% )

! (!!

! !" . ! !" ! ! !"#$% . ! !"#$%

(! !" !! !"#$% )



that !!!! !" = 1 in which the !" shows the percentage of

SG node type i which should be assigned to RAT j.




Define the number of SG node type, N, i=1


Define the number of available RATs, F, j=1


Compute Data rate weighs and normalized

values by using (4) and (5) for node i, RAT j


Compute Delay weighs and normalized

values by using (6.a,b) and (7) for node i, RAT j


Calculate CF for SG node type i, using RAT j

by (1 and 2)


Save CFij to a matrixes (3)




if j> F, set j=0,goto 11

10. goto 4

The assigning of the certain node type to the different

RATs in percentage values should be done.
Thus, it is normalized in a way which based on the
desirability values, higher percentage nodes will be
allocated to the RAT with higher desirability value and in
the meanwhile the sum of all normalized desirability
values are 1.
An algorithm come as following describes the
methodologies which are used in this paper briefly and

11. i=i+1, If i>N , goto 12 else goto 4

12. Call the matrixes from 7
13. Assign the nodes to different RAT using (8)
14. Finish

Numerical Results and discussions

To calculate the CF values, first the KPIs features,

the weight of data rate and delay for different SG node
types and the normalized value of different RATs for
different SG node types are defined by using (4-6.a,b) and
(7) respectively. Fig.3 and Fig.4 show the data rate and
delay normalized value, respectively, for different types
of SG nodes over three different RATs. As it can be seen,
WASA is negative for the case of GSM which its latency
has been considered 200 msec since its latency is higher
than WASA delay requirements. But as it can be seen its
normalized value for LEO DVB-S2 configuration is very
low and positive that cannot be shown in the figure 4
(Due to is very low value) (Table1 &2) and (7).
(Processing delay value in (7) avoids normalized value
being 0).

Fig. 5. CF value for different type of the SG node over 3 RATs

Fig. 3. Data Rate Normalized value

For all the SG node types, the nodes assigning

percentages for each different RATs are achieved.
Therefore, based on the introduced method, an
appropriate method is used to design a HET-NET to
support different communication requirements of
different SG nodes types by considering the RATs
characteristics while all the SG communication
requirements are fulfilled.
Based on the achieved CF numerical value for each type
of SG node and the RATs considered in this paper, and
the nodes assigning method which was explained in the
system model section, the percentage of each certain
branch type of the node in SG which should be assigned
to the acceptable RATs is achieved and shown in Fig.6
achieved by using (8).
The finalized results can be shown in Fig. 6 and

Fig 4. Delay Normalized value

Moreover, it is possible to notice in Fig.4, that
nodes, like PHEV, with lower delay requirements have
also lower delay normalized values comparing with the
other high delay sensitive SG nodes.
Moreover, LEO satellite communication with
communication configuration which is given in Table.2 is
the first priority RAT for WASA because their delay
sensitivity and latency are almost equal and matched and
the second priority is LTE.
For the other node types such as AMI and PHEV,
also the other RATs will be allocated to the SG node
based on their desirability values.
This is because the aim is to create an appropriate
Het-Net based on the RATs and a certain SG node type
desirability values. Indeed, it is not efficient put all the
eggs in the same basket by allocating a certain RAT to
support all the SG node type traffic.
Respect to the CF values, the desirability values a
nodes assigning to different RATs table is generated and
then the percentage of this assigning is calculated.

Fig. 6. Percentage of different types of SG nodes assignment over RATs

As it can be seen in Fig.6 and Table.4, for SMs the

highest percentage and lowest percentage of the nodes'
number are assigned to LTE and GSM, respectively. Node
assigning percentage of satellite accesses technology (LEO
constellation) is the modest one.
LTE has the highest spectral efficiency, but because
of its non-matched delay with SM delay, the assigning
percentage does not arise super significantly comparing
with two other RATs.
Again, as it was discussed, 4 second delay is totally
acceptable for SMs in this study (based on the chosen and
defined value of delay sensitivity for it) and assigning the

SMs to the LTE with just 10-20 msec is not efficient just in
terms of delay and based on the defined CF, around 40%
SMs can be assigned to LTE. Satellite access technology
using DVB-S2 protocol in which the direct end-to-end
communication has been established between terrestrial
station and satellite has much lower spectral efficiency
comparing with LTE but because its intrinsic latency is
higher than LTE, the nodes assigned percentage
difference between two mentioned RATs is not very
much. Besides, the higher data rate requirement for AMI
is among the highest data rate in the system different
node type. Thus the presented data rate by each RATs (in
reference BW) plays a major role in terms of percentage of
nodes assigning. For the GSM, as it can be seen in Tabs.1
and 2 and in Fig. 2, its high RTT has better matching with
SMs delay but due to high data rate requirement of AMIs
the lowest nodes assigning percentages is done over it.
For WASA, as its delay sensitivity is high and highest
among all the other SG node types, LTE and LEO DVB-S2
configurations can fulfill its delay requirements.
The highest percentage of WASA traffic is supported by
LEO DVB-S2 due to its high matched latency with WASA
delay sensitivity.
In DERS and DGM both node types have almost
the same requirements in terms of data rate although
DGM generating data rate is a bit higher. In terms of
delay sensitivity because both types of the nodes have
partially high delay requirements (low delay sensitive),
thus GSM seems to be a good option for them as its
latency has been assumed higher than the other RATs
By using the introduced method the highest
percentage of these two aforementioned nodes, DERS and
DGM, are assigned to GSM because GSM`s
communication characteristics has the highest fitting
degree (desirability value among the other RATs) with
DGM and DERS communication requirements. Due to the
same reason, the satellite RAT is the best choice after
GSM and more percentage nodes of these two different
node types are assigned to it comparing with LTE.
PHEV nodes due to its specific communication
requirements namely data rate equals 100 kbps that is
somehow high and its delay sensitivity, 10 seconds which
is the highest delay among the other SG node types has
been somehow equally assigned to the different available
RATs. To assign PHEV nodes there is a tradeoff between
delay sensitivity which is the lowest here and its data rate
that is high.
Higher spectral efficiency makes the RATs with higher
modulation level as a better choice and lower delay
sensitivity of PHEV node makes the RATs with higher
latency more suitable based on the defined CF.
Table.3 Assigning percentage of SG nodes over RATs (achieved
by using (8))








The introduced method helps to design a HetNet supporting heterogeneous SG devices. The
percentages of assignment of the SG node types to the
different RATs are achieved by using an appropriate CF
which considers all RATs communication characteristics
and SG node communication requirements (Data rate and
delay) matching degree.
Rather than the benefits which are achieved by
implementing a Het-Net, this method avoid assigning all
certain user traffic to a single RAT and share it among all
available RATs respect to the desirability values which
are achieved by using the CF values.

Conclusions and Future Works

Finding a way to allocate the spectrum as the

scarce resources to satisfy all smart grid nodes
communication requirements in an efficient way and in
the meanwhile making an efficient Het-Net for
heterogeneous types of SG nodes is a big challenge.
A novel method was introduced and investigated
to properly allocate resources of different types of RATs.
This method is done and finalized in order to meet the SG
node types communication requirements while avoiding
as much as possible the unnecessary allocation of the
specific low latency RATs resource to the node types that
are not delay sensitive.
The certain SG node types are assigned to the
different RATs based on the desirability values whose are
achieved by using the introduced CF formula.
The reliability and security have been warranted
by RATs. Therefore CF is defined based on just two
important KPIs namely data rate and delay.
Finally, it should be mentioned this is a significant
extended version of the paper [1].


I should be thankful of Prof. Alessandro VanelliCoralli and Prof. Daniele Tarchi for their supports.
In addition, I thank Prof. Troels Bundgaard
Sorensen for assistance with the delay concept and all his
great helps and his time that kindly was allocated to me
by him. He helped me during my research period in
Aalborg University.





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Commun., vol. 59, no. 2, pp. 313329, Jul. 2011.

Vahid Kouhdaragh was born in Iran, in 1980. He received the B.E.

degree in electrical engineering from the Yazd University, Iran, in
Telecommunications engineering from the University Technology of
Malaysia (UTM), in 2009 in Malaysia, with high G.P.A
In 2013, he joined to the Department of Electrical and
Telecommunications Engineering, University of Bologna to continue
his Ph.D. program.
His current research interests include M2M communication and
Network design for Smart Grid. He has several publications about
Smart Grid communication networks. He is a member of IEEE since
2013 and a reviewer member of Communication and information
Journal since July 2016. He has reviewed lots of high ranked
journals papers related to Smart Grid Communication Networks.