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December 11, 2009

Smart Grid Week in Review: Technology Seeing Meteoric Rise



Though the burgeoning smart grid market took several steps forward this week – witness AT&T’s (News - Alert) addition of upstart Silver Spring Networks to its list of smart meter backhaul partners, the People Power Company’s federal funding win and a nonprofit group’s finalization of smart specs – some of the most interesting news emerged from a pair of interviews conducted by the co-founders of Intelligent Communications Partners.
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Jon Arnold (News - Alert) and Shidan Gouran – tech and telecom industry veterans who are organizing the Smart Grid Summit, an event collocated with ITEXPO East 2010, to be held Jan. 20 to 22 in Miami – spoke to industry thought-leaders from and Trilliant and Watteco about topics such as stimulus funding, utilities’ use of smart grids, the technology’s future and the role of SoC chip vendors.
 
As Eric Miller, senior vice president of solutions at Trilliant (News - Alert), told Arnold in an interview (printed in full here), the smart grid has gone from a “relatively arcane technology category to a mainstream issue in only about 18 months”
 
“If awareness of the problem is step one, then the government has done everything right,” Miller said. “With respect to impact, the stimulus package was a double-edged sword.”
 
On the one hand, Miller said, many utilities were already planning to deploy smart grid programs, but then decided to postpone those proposals and try to get federal dollars to augment their own funds.
 
“That created a short-term delay in programs getting up and running. In the long run, however, the impact is substantial,” he continued. “While the dollar amounts allocated won’t solve U.S. energy grid problems overnight, it does represent a true stimulus; one that will pay substantial dividends down the road as a direct result of the initiatives getting underway now.”
 
In a conversation with Didier Boivin, vice president of marketing for Watteco, a vendor of SoC systems for PLC communications (printed in full here), Gouran discussed many of those initiatives from the perspective of the SoC segment – a group that’s expected to address very specific challenges in the smart grid space.
 
At one point in their talk, Boivin noted that a large mass market will bring big suppliers into play, but added that he believes Watteco’s “patented non-inductive coupling technology gives us a significant advantage in the industry, and will be a key enabler for smart grid deployment, worldwide.”
 
“Traditional approaches inject energy for carrying data, but Watteco’s unique technology (called WPC) uses resonance frequencies of the grid to communicate with electromagnetic pulses,” Boivin said. “Watteco devices create a high-level, low-energy pulses that is fully compliant with EMC (News - Alert) regulations, and this pulse’s magnitude can be significantly higher than the surrounding noise, even after propagation, ensuring a very robust communications signal.”
 
Learn more about Smart Grid technology at the Smart Grid Summit, an event collocated with ITEXPO East 2010, to be held Jan. 20 to 22 in Miami. This is the event you need to attend if you want to understand the role that IP communications technologies will play in how the Smart Grid evolves – not just for making utilities more efficient, but also for enabling the Smart Home and a new generation of communications innovations. Register now.

Michael Dinan is a group managing editor for TMCnet, overseeing TMCnet's Web editorial team and covering news in the IP communications, CRM and VoIP industries. He also oversees production of e-Newsletters in the areas of 4G wireless technology and smart products. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan
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