The design of the Smart Grid requires solving a complex problem of combined sensing, communications and control and, thus, the problem of choosing a networking technology cannot be addressed without also taking into consideration requirements related to sensor networking and distributed control. These requirements are today still somewhat undefined so that it is not possible yet to give quantitative guidelines on how to choose one communication technology over the other. In this paper, we make a first qualitative attempt to better understand the role that Power Line Communications (PLCs) can have in the Smart Grid. Furthermore, we here report recent results on the electrical and topological properties of the power distribution network. The topological characterization of the power grid is not only important because it allows us to model the grid as an information source, but also because the grid becomes the actual physical information delivery infrastructure when PLCs are used.
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