AT&T takes smart grids residential
AT&T lends network to SmartSynch’s SmartMetering to bring smart-grid technology to the residential market
Hoping to be one of the first carriers to capitalize on the recent smart-grid movement, AT&T today announced it has expanded its relationship with SmartSynch to the residential sector, providing electrical utilities companies with an alternative smart-grid technology for individual homes. The combined platform will include a new suite of service plans from AT&T designed specifically for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications with SmartSynch’s smart grid – already deployed at more than 100 utilities throughout North America.
Telecommunications carriers are all interested in reducing power consumption to both cut costs and increase operational efficiencies, as well as reduce the environmental impact of operating their networks. AT&T appears to be the first mover after the recently passed economic stimulus bill gave a boon to smart-grid technologies, promising $11 billion towards upgrading the nation’s electrical system. The funding is aimed at creating network standards to link the nation’s power plants, electrical companies and eventually individual residential households with 40 million smart meters and 3,000 miles of transmission lines.
“The timing on this is perfect in terms of the big push across the country to upgrade to a smart grid,” said Chris Hill, vice president of mobility product management at AT&T Business Solutions. “That’s why we have tailored this and are starting to work with the leading providers like SmartSynch to enable that as the whole industry goes through an upgrade over the next five to 10 years.”
The smart grid, an alternative to a private network, combines smart meters, wireless technology, sensors and software to enable utilities to closely monitor energy use and cut back when needed. The idea is that the grid will help consumers understand the economics of their consumption patterns so they readjust their behavior in a way that saves money and energy. Hill said the smart grid technology can also enhance reliability and energy efficiency, lower power-line losses and provide utilities with the ability to remotely automate service, resulting in further cost savings.
The combination of AT&T’s network and SmartSynch’s grid will also let electric utility companies concentrate on efficient electricity delivery rather than being bogged down with the expense and complexity of creating their own communications network. The point-to-point configuration model allows each meter to communicate directly with the utility over the AT&T wireless network, creating a two-way open system for energy information in real time.
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