Abstract The Smart Grid will enable a new era of electricity generation, transmission, distribution and consumption driven by efficiency, reliability, flexibility and environmental concerns. A key component of the Smart Grid is a communications infrastructure for data acquisition, monitoring, control and protection. In this paper, we evaluate the key performance aspects of an LTE Release 8 FDD network as the wide area communications network for Smart Grid applications. We develop analytical results for latency and channel utilization and discuss the implications for Smart Grid traffic sources, particularly the fact that system capacity is likely to be control channel limited. We also develop an OPNET based discrete event simulation model for a PMU based fault monitoring system using LTE FDD as its communication medium and use it to validate the analytical findings. In particular, we demonstrate how uplink data plane latencies of less than 10ms can only be achieved using small application layer packets. These findings can be used to understand how to best deploy an LTE FDD network in a Smart Grid environment and also in the development of new radio resource management algorithms that are tailored specifically to Smart Grid traffic sources.