Green Growth: It's In the Wireless Networks

Spring has sprung and could be ushering in the very early beginnings of new growth in the cleantech world thanks to the stimulus package. And which sector will see a massive influx of spending and buildout? Well, the smart grid of course (tired of it yet?) — and that makes wireless communication companies particularly happy.

At CTIA, one of the biggest telecom industry conferences, former VP-turned-cleantech-investor Al Gore told wireless executives in the audience last Friday that wireless technology will be one of the key tools used to fight climate change: “This is one of those rare times we all agree that the government needs to build out a green infrastructure that will free us from foreign oil and draw on clean energy.” It’s one of the themes we touched on at our recent Green:Net conference.

Wireless sensor networks and communication networks placed on the grid will help utilities monitor and control the flow of energy better and more effectively address power outages. At the edge of the grid, consumers will use wireless networks to better manage their energy consumption. Investors are starting to make more investments in these wireless technology pieces: Just today Ember told us it has raised $8 million to help it deploy more of its wireless sensor network technology. Traditional telcos, too, like AT&T are also repositioning themselves to sell into the smart grid, and AT&T says it is working with smart-meter maker SmartSynch to provide its wireless network for residential installations.

A wireless network buildout means the promise of more jobs, too. At the National Smart Grid Conference, today U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell emphasized how a smart grid boom will give a boost to local employers in the Washington area and in a release quoted figures from the GridWise Alliance, predicting that the stimulus funds “could generate over 75,000 new jobs across the nation in just one year.” Of course, not all of those will be in wireless, but anything helping connect one of the planned 40 million smart meters to a utility will need some sort of wireless communication tech involved.

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