Smart Meters Go Wireless

May 2009

Summary:  T-Mobile USA has hooked up with Echelon, a provider of smart meters, to make those meters wireless (for the US market).  Smart meters are a key to upgrading the power grid and the wireless feature will simplify connection to the utility companies.

Echelon and T-Mobile recently announced that Echelon will embed a wireless SIM into its smart meters.  T-Mobile’s value-add is also that the chips will be more durable than current deployments.

The wireless connection will improve the link into the utilities, providing them with real-time information on power usage, as well as problems with their networks.

So What?

This is a “shovel-ready” project to upgrade the grid that also seems to have a knock-on, or multiplier effect, not to mention improving efficiency of the power network.  Apparently, the embedding has already begun.  Echelon has already delivered some 100,000 of its smart meters in the US (to Duke Energy) and more than 1.6m around the world—though without the wireless connection.

The Knock-on Effect

The knock-on effect suggests that companies can provide data management applications for the utilities.  The obvious starting point is the incoming data on power usage and network reliability.  However, data miners could work with the utilities to monetize those data—with obvious and very careful attention to privacy matters.

Finally, imagine an app on your smartphone and/or your laptop, telling you your immediate usage.  One the data are available on a wireless basis, then they can be delivered to any number of platforms (taking into account that the data are initially broadcast in cellular radio format).

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