ABB Wireless

Monday, February 8, 2010

Smart Grids -- Its Not Just About Meters

There was an interesting exclusive interview that appeared today in SmartGrid Today with Itron’s CEO, Malcolm Unsworth. He talked about the overall positive trend in Itron’s business as well as pointed out the fact that the adoption of smart meters is changing the metering vendor playing field. Smart Grid deployments seem to be accelerating meter demand, and with only 8% of the world’s meters capable of bidirectional communications today, there’s huge opportunity for Itron and the other metering vendors. However, to make Smart Grids requires more than just installing smart meters and as such its forcing the metering vendors to innovate and develop new product strategies…or risk their future.

While meters had been a commodity, with the advent of smart grids, meters aren’t just simple devices autonomous devices anymore. Smart meters are an integral part of the smart grid ecosystem and bidirectional communications is a key requirement. Meters need to tie to metering LANS upstream to connect to distribution area networks which are backhauled to the utility’s core network. Smart meters must connect downstream to home area networks that will eventually communicate with networks in homes and appliances. Clearly networks and network communications are a new strategic challenge metering vendors are facing…and to to quote Mr. Unsworth, “…the best ones will win.”

Tropos also recognized the strategic role of communications for smart grids, launching its GridCom architecture about a year ago. Currently Tropos has approximately twenty utility customers using its IP broadband mesh networking solutions and is well poised to continue providing utilities with a reliable smart grid communications foundation. Tropos has established relationships with a wide range of industry-leading smart grid ecosystem vendors, including Itron, Echelon, and Elster. Check out our website to learn more about the Tropos GridCom architecture for Smart Grids.