The projected use of the power grid for smart applications such as advanced metering and distributed automation will require highly reliable, secure, well designed and managed communication networks. While many of the benefits of wireless communications, such as untethered access to information, support for mobility, and reduced infrastructure, would be available to the grid, there are still a number of unanswered questions regarding network performance, suitability, and security. In this article, we introduce the communication requirements that have been established for these applications thus far. Throughout, we highlight the implications of wireless deployment as it relates specifically to the smart grid and we identify key issues that must be considered when evaluating a wireless technology against the communication requirements. © 1986-2012 IEEE.