Modern power system involves growing use of open channel communication in secondary frequency regulation which introduces time delay in the automatic generation control loop which may lead to system instability. This study proposes a novel power system frequency stabiliser (PSFS) which is a modified secondary controller in order to improve the system stability in the presence of large communication delays. An auxiliary signal is added to the secondary controller to provide additional damping. The gain of the controller is obtained by meta-heuristic methods. The proposed controller is first developed on a single area hydropower system and the same is then applied on the Western System Coordinating Council 3-machine, 9-bus power system. Furthermore, to show the effectiveness of the proposed PSFS in a large practical multi-area system; it is also applied to the IEEE 39-bus system. Results show that the proposed controller significantly improves the stability of a power system operating with large communication delay which is first considered as constant and then the stability improvement with the proposed PSFS in the presence of random communication delays is also shown. The PSFS performance is tested by the results obtained with MATLAB/Simulink simulations and further verified on a real-time simulator. © The Institution of Engineering and Technology 2018.