FCC hones its broadband, smart grid vision

As the FCC gets ready to finally turn in its broadband plan to Congress in March, the agency has asked service providers and the utility industry to find a way to collaborate on how they can leverage their expertise to create the smart electrical grid.

Nick Sinai, the FCC's energy and environmental director, said the agency's recommendations on how it will incorporate broadband into the smart grid via the National Broadband plan will focus on three areas: promoting open standards and commercial networks, creating policies to influence utilities to provide their customers with real-time data on their usage patterns and how utilities can use federal wireless spectrum bands for smart grid network builds.

Although many utilities maintain plans to build out their own smart grid networks, Sinai said the FCC will examine how they can create more effective use of service provider networks. If a utility company decides to build its own network for smart grid applications, the FCC will encourage them to operate in a similar band to cut costs and help create open standards.    

To date, the most active service providers in the smart grid space have been AT&T and Qwest. Last year, AT&T forged partnerships with Cooper Power Systems to sell smart grid sensors that will help utilities better manage their grid and SmartSynch. Meanwhile, Qwest and Current Communications began a trial with Xcel Energy where it was providing DSL-based backhaul to backhaul smart-grid data from connected homes.

For more:
- Connected Planet has this article

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