Tuesday, April 21, 2009

T-Mobile USA Teams with Echelon to Pursue Smart Grid Opportunity

Echelon is teaming up with T-Mobile USA to accelerate the adoption of the smart grid in the North American market by reducing the communications cost of smart meters. The partnership combines Echelon's Networked Energy Services (NES) system with T-Mobile's GSM cellular network. As part of the agreement, Echelon will utilize an embedded T-Mobile SIM within a cellular radio module to enable all the Echelon smart meters on a given low voltage transformer to communicate back to the utility over the smart grid, and T-Mobile will offer users of Echelon's NES system innovative and cost-effective pricing plans for data usage.

Unlike systems with a dedicated, proprietary radio per metering point, multiple NES meters can share a single IP connection among all the meters on a given low voltage transformer, driving down the per-point connection cost and eliminating the need for the utility to build and maintain a dedicated private wireless network for their meters.

T-Mobile's embedded SIM for Machine-to-Machine (M2M) is approximately the size of a head of a pin and it can withstand challenging environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and motion, according to the company. The embedded SIM preserves many of the benefits of a GSM-based SIM solution (authentication, encryption and storage), but at a fraction the size of the traditional SIM.

"We believe the initiative we have announced today with T-Mobile should fundamentally change the way utilities in North America think about deploying AMI systems," said Jim Andrus, Echelon vice president of NES Sales Americas. "While the investment in coverage, reliability and security of carriers such as T-Mobile is unmatched by what a utility could do on their own, the operating costs of public networks have traditionally limited their use in the North American market. In contrast, aggressive pricing plans have made the use of the public cellular networks as the backhaul of smart grid systems the norm in Europe. We believe the programs we have put in place with T-Mobile can have the same impact on the North American market."http://www.tmobile.com

See also