SAN JOSE, Calif. Seeking to differentiate itself in a competitive market, a utility company in Australia has agreed to install by December 2013 more than 680,000 smart meters riding a WiMax network. SP AusNet, part of the Singapore Power Group, is among contenders to deliver more than 2.5 million smart meters over the next four years as part of a government program in the state of Victoria.
The utility is sourcing its smart meter network from a variety of companies including GE Energy, Landis+Gyr, GridNet and Motorola. GE is supplying half of the project's WiMax-enabled smart meters, GridNet is supplying network management software, Motorola is providing the WiMax communications infrastructure and Cisco Systems will provide core networking systems..
"These partnerships allow us to use WiMax technology to communicate electricity consumption from the smart meters back to our systems, in a distinctly different approach to other Victorian electricity distribution companies," said SP AusNet's managing director Nino Ficca, speaking in a press release. "WiMax is a cutting edge, wireless digital communications system and we're looking forward to our customers receiving the benefits of this great technology," he added.
It was not immediately clear how much bandwidth the smart meters require. Use of WiMax will likely drive the cost of the smart meters above what is typical for the application.
Backers said WiMax was chosen not so much for its bandwidth as its reliability. In addition to use of WiMax in smart meters, the network ultimately could be used for substation automation, distribution network monitoring and control, and communications for field operators. The installation marks the first use of WiMax in the area.
In the U.S., a government-led group recently released its first draft of smart grid standards. The U.S. Department of Energy received more than 400 proposals for billions of federal dollars earmarked for smart grid projects as part of the economic stimulus package.
Separately, service providers Clearwire, Comcast and Sprint released more details about their plans for deploying WiMax services in the U.S. The companies will launch service in Philadelphia in the next several weeks, in Chicago in November and in Seattle/Tacoma in early December.
In addition, Clearwire and Sprint said in November they will launch WiMax service in Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh, North Carolina; as well as Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas. Service will be available from both companies in Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii in early December.