Revolutionary standards-based wide area network for utilities introduced


Cleveland, OH, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — September 15, 2009 – What is described as a revolutionary, mesh-based wide area network (WAN) for utilities has been introduced by intelligent infrastructure solution provider, Aclara.

The Aclara Smart Communications Network, which is designed for use by gas, water, or electric utilities, is a high bandwidth, standards-based, broadband solution that will bring together existing utility assets and applications into a single network.

The network employs TCP/IP communications protocols as well as IEEE 802.11 standards for wireless communications, and can be configured to communicate in mesh, point-to-point, or point-to-multipoint modes over 900 MHz or 2.4/5.8 GHz frequencies. The 900 MHz range handles most network tasks, while the 2.4/5.8 GHz range provides additional bandwidth and higher data rates for transmitting large amounts of data. The network also conforms to authentication and encryption criteria that meet developing industry security standards.

The solution allows utilities to replace multiple, low to medium bandwidth systems that now communicate data to utilities. The solution also provides an ideal interface to utility and IT resources and back-office applications for SCADA control and monitoring systems, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), home area networks, and mobile workforce applications.

“The use of widely accepted standards provides simple, secure, and reliable interoperability to a wide range of systems within electric, gas and water utilities,” said Mark Thompson, vice president of Strategic Communication Networks for Aclara. “The initial implementations of the Smart Communications Network will include AMI backhaul, but the solid foundation provided by IEEE 802.11 makes the network an efficient way to link other applications, including SCADA, to the utility.”

Aclara also has announced a strategic alliance with wireless infrastructure mesh supplier Firetide Inc. to develop the Smart Communications Network, which utilizes Firetide’s MIMO radio technology as well as its network management software. Firetide solutions are now used by many municipalities and enterprises to create strong data networks that stream voice and data, as well as video from security cameras. The technology supports data rates of 1 Mb/s to 300 Mb/s, making it ideally suited to handle utility distribution applications.