Energy Australia's WiMAX rollout fits the bill

No more power estimates with new open-source network.

Energy Australia is slashing maintenance costs and improving outage recovery times with the country's first wireless smart metering system.

The system will transmit power usage and maintenance data from two million digital smart meters across NSW and Queensland to a central database over a WiMAX and fibre optic network.

Speaking at the 2008 Wireless World conference in Sydney, intelligent networks manager Adrian Clark said the system, in trial a phase, should be deployed across the country within two years.

We've had to virtually become our own telco because our requirements are so different

Adrian Clark - EnergyAustralia

"We will be able to extend wireless smart metering into the home and businesses in the future to monitor energy efficiency of separate appliances and devices," Clark said.

"We went head-first into this which is something we don't do. We've had to virtually become our own telco because our requirements are so different; we have millions of dispersed devices that need 100 percent coverage.

"Everything hinges on building a strong telecommunications capability which allows data to constantly flow."

Data will be collected over the last-mile via WiMAX-enabled substations which will connect to new upstream and downstream smart metering devices installed in homes and businesses.

A new 1000km fibre backbone, built over the last three years, will carry the data from the substations to 250 sites across the two states.

The fibre backbone replaced an aging copper network with upgradeable 1Gbps Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS) and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) layer 2 and 3.

The smart meters will be later upgraded with additional functionality via XML embedded in the devices.

Clark said Energy Australia has no immediate plans to resell Internet services from its base stations, but won't rule-out the prospect in the future.

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