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By Samuel R. Avro on Aug 16, 2009 with 4 responses

Smart Grid Will Rely on Wireless, Broadband Services

wireless_smart_gridAccording to Fierce Telecom, the FCC has hired Nick Sinai of Polaris Ventures, a former venture capitalist, to be the energy and environmental director as well as establish a National Broadband Task Force, which aims to analyze the United States’ communications system to pave the way for establishing a smart energy grid.

The FCC plans to establish a set of rules for utility providers that will use broadband and wireless technology to gather data on energy consumption.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm and Verizon have agreed on starting a joint venture that aims to facilitate machine-to-machine wireless communication (designated as M2M) and begin establishing the use of smart services in a variety of markets. Although the joint venture hasn’t been given a name yet, the goal is to enable utilities to connect to items such as circuit breakers, sub-station equipment, and transformers and make them more interactive. By 2012, utility companies project that there will be more than 85 million connections around the world.

Verizon and Qualcomm plan to include cloud computing in order to provision devices automatically, monitor power usage, and manage equipment. Some other capabilities planned to be set up include applications that are specific to certain products, new performance monitoring tools, data collection, and OEM white label applications.

The market research firm Frost & Sullivan released a document that will allow building owners to see a list of challenges presented when it comes to automating buildings as well as how automation and IT systems can help owners have more control over energy demand while maximizing the amount of available space and keeping environmental impact to a minimum. The white paper, titled A New Facelift for Existing Buildings,  also serves as a plan for achieving the next level of control networking and information gathering.

  1. By Mike Raphone on August 17, 2009 at 9:00 am

    The simple solution would be to have the power companies install fiber along their rights of way. The Government could subsidize the power companies installation of fiber. The fiber could serve customers along the fiber route directly and then use wireless technology to reach customers too distant to serve with fiber. There will be no problem providing power to electronic equipment supporting broadband service because the broadband equipment can be powered directly from the power line. The power companies already have the equipment and personnel capable with dealing with the installation of cables whether fiber of copper.

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  2. By Jeff on August 17, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Mike, laying down an entire fiber network is far too expensive. Yes, it would be nice, but fiber isn’t cheap. It costs teleco’s about $2 a foot to hang fiber on poles which translates to $10,000 per mile. Even if it’s only half of that since the poles are already there that’s $5,000 per mile, and it costs a lot more when done underground. The US has around 157,000 miles of high voltage power lines. So on the low end we are talking about $1,570,000,000 to lay the fiber alone on our major high voltage power lines. Then you have to add in the cost of routers, switching equipment, maintenance, underground and residential lines and the costs will easily increase by a factor of ten.

    In this case wireless is the most economical solution, and while running fiber is always nice. It isn’t always the best solution.

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  3. By Mike Raphone on August 18, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Jeff, One Billion, Five Hundred and Seventy Million Dollars is a bargain to wire the United States. Consider how much it cost to build the roads that the power company right of ways run along. Even if the cost is ten times the cost that you quoted the project would be a bargain. In the 1930′s the Rural Electrification Administration funded the wiring of America. That program was not inexpensive. The power and telephone cooperatives had to start from scratch, constructing outside plant where there was no right of way or even a path. When I was a child I lived in a rural area North of New York City where there would have been no power distribution and telephone system without REA financing. Compare the cost of installing fiber to the cost of constructing a foot of Two Lane Highway? The government is building new highways every day.

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  4. By Insteon on December 8, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Properly secured, this shouldn’t be an issue at all but when the power controls of a large commercial building are at stake there will need to be proper monitoring of all vulnerabilities, likely someone dedicated to monitor and contact building owners in the event of equipment upgrade requirements. I’d like to think they’ve thought of all this, but I’ve seen worse get rolled out with SCADA stuff.

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