Vodafone Germany and Alcatel-Lucent are putting their heads together to give German consumers a smart metering service. Marketed through the two companies' sales organizations as a managed service, consumers will be able to get real-time information about their energy usage (electricity, gas and water).
Both companies will bring their own expertise in networking to the table for the new initiative that they say will comply with upcoming European Union's rules. Through its German subsidiary, Alcatel-Lucent will bring its Smart Metering Management System (SSM 8617) in addition to its services experience to integrate the solution's components, including the connection to the operational management systems of energy suppliers (Enterprise Resource Planning--ERP and Energy Data Management--EDM). To connect the intelligent meters that will be installed in consumer homes, Vodafone Germany will provide Machine-to-Machine Communications (M2M) through either a wireline DSL connection or wireless GPRS.
Already, the joint solution is getting German utilities' attention. Stadtwerke Pasewalk, a municipal utility that operates in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, will deploy the solution to its respective customer base.
Smart metering and the accompanying smart grid concept is not just a German phenomenon, however. A number of U.S.-based electric utilities have been working with service providers on various smart grid projects. A noteable example of a wireline operator working on smart metering is Qwest's trial with Xcel Energy in Boulder, Colo., which is backhauling smart grid data over its DSL network. Arguably still a nascent market opportunity, Vodafone Germany's and Qwest's efforts could point to the emergence of a trend where telcos could potentially incorporate energy management as an add-on to their broadband service offerings.
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