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Thursday, 22 October 2009 15:28

SP AusNet taps Motorola & Unwired for WiMAX based smart-metering

Victorian power company, SP AusNet, has chosen Motorola Home & Networks Mobility business' mobile broadband technology to power what, according to Motorola, will be the world's first WiMAX-based smart metering network, using Unwired's spectrum.

Motorola will provide SP AusNet with a full measurement and collection system that includes customer meters, communication networks and data management systems for its smart metering programme that will monitor electricity usage in 680,000 for Victorian homes by 2013.

The system will used mobile WiMAX technology operating in 2.3GHz spectrum which SP AusNet will lease from wireless broadband service provider, Unwired. Motorola will start shipping and installing products by the end of 2009.

Unwired has been rather vague about its relationship with SP AusNet, saying that its agreement with SP AusNet gives SP AusNet access ot "part of Unwired's 2.3GHz spectrum in Melbourne to operate a WiMAX network," and that SP AusNet will build a number of base station sites in Unwired's coverage area.

It then says that this network would be used in any future 4G broadband network to be deployed in Melbourne, with Unwired CEO, David Spence saying: "Agreements with partners like SP AusNet will build a platform that will help us extend our Vividwireless mobile Internet services outside Perth."

Unwired and Motorola are just two of many organisations involved in the project. According to SP AusNet, its partner are: Landis+Gyr, GE and GridNet, UXC, Electrix, Motorola, Unwired, eMeter, Logica, Accenture, Enterprise Business Services, and Geomatic Technologies.

In addition, Select Solutions, a commercial arm of SP AusNet, will provide the overall management of the end-to-end meter exchange component for the programme, including the management of all field service providers and provisioning of required systems.


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Motorola will supply and deploy its WiMAX WAP 650 base stations, access service network (ASN) gateway and new microwave systems to extend the wide area network (WAN) to new coverage areas.

According to Motorola, "The system is based on a flat, all-IP architecture that enables high-speed machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. It will facilitate communication with SP AusNet's smart meters embedded with WiMAX chipsets, collecting measurements and sending instructions in real time, supporting the analysis of usage patterns and power generation needs. This wireless network also will allow SP AusNet to facilitate smooth communications for its field operations."

Eric Starnes, vice president of sales and operations for Motorola's Home & Networks Mobility business in Asia, said: "This is the first time WiMAX technology will be used in smart metering for an electrical utility company. The WiMAX technology supports high-speed data communications and hundreds of thousands of smart metering connections that are capable of covering large geographical areas, providing a solid foundation to build a reliable and cost-effective communications network for smart metering."

Victoria is the first state in Australia to implement an extensive roll-out of smart meters. The government-led initiative will enable more than 2.2 million homes and 300,000 businesses to better manage their energy needs, cut carbon emissions and help increase retail competition.
According to Motorola, "Utility companies with smart metering systems will be able to provide innovative pricing structures such as discounted rates during non-peak hours. By providing more information on energy consumption levels in different time periods during the day, smart metering enables customers to enjoy cheaper electricity rates by better managing their usage. In addition, it will help increase businesses' ability to pre-define disaster planning scenarios to minimise the impact to the grid, which will save resources."

It adds: "The WiMAX-based system also can support a series of new functions such as remote connection and disconnection, outage detection and notification, power quality control and asset optimisation."

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