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Broadband, Wireless Services to Play Vital Role in Smart Grid

smartgridoverviewWhile Verizon Wireless and Qualcomm are starting a new joint venture to provide machine-to-machine (M2) wireless communications and smart services to a wide range of markets including utilities, the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) has hired an energy and environmental director to look at how the U.S. broadband/communications infrastructure and policies can support the nation’s energy and environmental goals.

These are just a couple of the recent developments in the world of smart grids.

The FCC has recently hired former venture capitalist Nick Sinai of Polaris Ventures as its energy and environmental director to create a National Broadband Task Force to evaluate the nation’s broadband/communications infrastructure and how it will enhance the smart grid, reports Fierce Telecom.

The biggest proponents for the smart grid are the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and the IEEE , which jointly developed the Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Project P2030.

The FCC will develop rules and regulations for utility companies leveraging wireless spectrum and broadband access technologies, reports Fierce Telecom.

The Verizon Wireless and Qualcomm joint venture, yet to be named, will focus on smart services enabled by M2M capabilities. As an example, smart grid technology enables utilities to wirelessly connect to their grid assets such as circuit breakers, transformers and other sub-station equipment, allowing them to develop more interactive utility networks. Analysts peg the M2M market at more than 85 million connections globally by 2012, according to the companies.

The joint venture will leverage Qualcomm’s advanced connectivity technologies and Verizon Wireless’ expertise and simplified device certification process. One new capability will include cloud computing solutions to automate device provisioning, and to track, monitor and manage assets. Others include custom white label applications for OEM customers, product-specific applications for end-use markets, new diagnostic tools for monitoring network health and device performance, data aggregation services, and back office integrations.

One of the applications within the smart grid is building automation. Market research firm Frost & Sullivan has introduced a white paper that will give building owners an overview of challenges in building automation and how the convergence of IT and building systems can help them better manage energy demand, maximize space and minimize environmental impact.

The white paper, A New Facelift for Existing Buildings, also provides a road map for defining the next generation of information and control networking, which includes an integrated IT enterprise platform approach to enhance connectivity between building systems.

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