The current distribution systems of the electrical grid are based on technology several decades old, therefore it is not a surprise that they are considered outdated. The demand for electricity is ever increasing, as are the quality of service parameters set forth by governments. Furthermore, companies wish to minimise their costs. Thus the idea of a Smart Grid was born. The Smart Grid will overcome these challenges primarily through superior information gathering from the end users. It will then use this abundance of data to automatically adjust its operation to best suit the circumstances. In order to gather these statistics, however, a near continuous, high speed, very reliable connection needs to be established between the service provider and the users. There are numerous options for the practical implementation of this connection, the most interesting of which is the cognitive radio. Its guiding principle is based on the realisation that during wireless communication the utilisation of the frequency band is often quite low. This fact is used when the cognitive radio monitors the transmission medium, and if it is free, communication will commence.
In the first half of this paper I will provide an overview of the essential properties of the Smart Grid, and the requirements of the last mile communication in particular; then I will establish the capabilities of the cognitive radio. However, whether this technology is satisfactory for the transmission of traffic generated by the Smart Grid, has not yet been proven. Therefore, I will design and implement a simulation to ascertain the viability of this solution. During the evaluation of the simulation results, I will show that cognitive radio performs well under realistic stress.