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December 10, 2009

AT&T Partners with Silver Spring Networks



AT&T reportedly has added the smart grid networking upstart Silver Spring Networks to its list of smart meter backhaul partners.

This partnership with Silver Spring Networks is the latest in a line of partnerships from AT&T (News - Alert), which seeks to provide wireless communications for smart meter networks and other smart grid systems, said officials with AT&T in a press release.
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According to a company press release, Silver Spring Networks allows utilities to quickly and cost effectively deploy a broad set of Smart Grid initiatives. It provides a unified platform for utilities that start with advanced metering or distribution automation or focuses on consumers with demand response or electric vehicle projects.

The partnership agreement between AT&T and Silver Spring will enable both the companies to launch their combined services to utilities that are utilizing Silver Spring for their smart meter communications. However, no utility partners have been announced yet.

Apart from Silver Spring, AT&T has similar partnerships with - Itron (ITRI), a smart meter maker; SmartSynch, a provider of IP-based smart grid solutions using public wireless networks; and Cooper Power Systems, a distribution grid equipment maker.

The company is working with SmartSynch to deliver wireless smart metering to utilities. The combined solution is a suite of AT&T machine to machine service plans with SmartSynch’s smart grid solutions. The solution delivers a point-to-point configuration model in which each meter communicates directly with the utility over the AT&T wireless network.

Public cellular networks can be used instead of radio frequency mesh systems for residential smart meter deployments. AT&T will be utilizing technologies from Silver Spring Networks and Trilliant (News - Alert) for this purpose, said company.

AT&T is not the only telecom company offering smart meter backhaul services. Other telecoms, such as Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint (News - Alert) are also into this field. Verizon is currently working with Duke Energy (DUK) and others, whereas T-Mobile USA is currently working with smart meter maker Echelon (ELON), and Sprint is currently working with utilities such as Florida Power & Light.

Generally, telecoms offer only backhaul communications between utility control rooms and concentrator devices, which make use of separate networks to link too many smart meters at homes and businesses. However, AT&T along with SmartSynch will be able to connect individual meters via their public wireless networks, said officials with AT&T in the release.

AT&T’s Eric Cheung and Hank Hultquist will be leading two sessions during TMC’s (News - Alert) 4GWE Conference, to be held Jan. 20-22 in Miami and collocated with ITEXPO East 2010.

Jayashree Adkoli is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Jayashree's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard
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