Victorian electricity distributor, SP AusNet, will partner with 12 companies and utilise WiMAX technology to rollout 680,000 smart meters in the state over the next three years.
The deployment of the smart meters will commence in the coming months and be focused on homes and small businesses in the state's eastern and north eastern regions.
In a statement, SP Ausnet managing director, Nino Ficca, said Select Solutions, a commercial arm of the company, would provide the overall management of the end-to-end meter exchange component for the Victorian Government’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) program.
The 12 partners include Landis+Gyr, GE and GridNet, UXC Limited, Electrix, Motorola, Unwired, eMeter, Logica, Accenture, Enterprise Business Services, and Geomatic Technologies.
“These partnerships have also allowed us to utilise WiMAX technology to communicate electricity consumption from the smart meters back to our systems, in a distinctly different approach to other Victorian electricity distribution companies,” Ficca said. “WiMAX is a cutting edge, wireless digital communications system and we’re looking forward to our customers receiving the benefits of this great technology.”
In a statement, Motorola claimed this would be the first time WiMAX was used by an electricity distributor for smart metering.
The vendor will supply and deploy "WiMAX WAP 650 base stations operating at 2.3GHz, Access Service Network (ASN) Gateway and new microwave systems" to extend SP AusNet's wide area network (WAN).
"The system is based on a flat, all-IP architecture that enables high-speed machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. It will facilitate communication with SP AusNet’s smart meters embedded with WiMAX chipsets, collecting measurements and sending instructions in real time, supporting the analysis of usage patterns and power generation needs," the statement read.
In September, the Energy Networks Association (ENA), the national body for Australia’s gas and electricity networks, urged the Federal Government to recognise the benefits of existing fibre infrastructure in the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll out and to consider the 'Smart Network' opportunities.
Smart networks utilise advanced metering, communications and data management to deliver electricity from suppliers to consumers. The technology is said to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability and transparency. Smart meters are one component of smart networks, which are also commonly referred to as smart grids.