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New devices with Sprint wireless capability aim to help businesses reduce energy costs

Carrier partners with Proliphix and SmartLabs to embed wireless in remotely manageable thermostats and energy management systems

Sprint continues to expand its offerings for the electric utility market—as an announcement late last week involving two electric utility equipment manufacturers illustrates. The carrier will partner with Proliphix to embed wireless connectivity in an Internet managed thermostat. In addition, Sprint said the SmartLabs Insteon plug-and-play system with embedded Sprint wireless connectivity will be available in late 2011.
Sprint previously announced a plan to work with SmartLabs to enable the Insteon plug-and-play system to allow property owners to access and control energy consumption from a Web portal or Sprint smartphone. (CP: Sprint partners with SmartLabs on remote energy management).

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The resultant products will be sold to small and medium businesses through Sprint’s enterprise channel. Typical customers “have their own energy conservation initiatives,” said Brian M. Huey, business development and strategy executive for smart grid and utilities for Sprint’s Emerging Solutions Group, in an interview.

The products, Huey said, will provide a “clearly defined ROI to reduce energy and recoup the investment.”

Sprint exec: ROI can be easily demonstrated

The SmartLabs Insteon system enables property owners to schedule electrical devices to be turned on or off based on time of day, occupancy, weather conditions or ambient light levels. The system also can use an interface to an Internet-based weather forecasting application to, for example, set lighting to lower levels on sunny days than on rainy days. Equipment that can be controlled through the system includes lighting, security systems, heating and cooling, appliances, door locks and others.

Business customers also may be able to opt-in to allow the local utility company to automatically turn off devices at the customer location when the local demand for electricity is exceedingly high in exchange for a rebate from the utility. In order for this capability to be enabled, the local utility must support demand response signaling, Huey said. He hastened to add, though, that for most companies, it isn’t necessary to use this capability in order to see an ROI on their investment.

Sprint salespeople typically will team with salespeople from Proliphix and SmartLabs in selling the new devices, Huey said. Special wireless rate plans that recognize the unique nature of communications underlying the new devices are available, he said. Billing for the service can be done directly from Sprint or through one of its manufacturer partners.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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