Can the municipal Wi-Fi concept make the leap to all-inclusive smart grid communications solution? Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Tropos Networks is trying it out, and this morning unveiled new products and networking architecture meant to bridge every smart grid application from super-fast distribution automation gear to millions of smart meters. GridCom 2.0 includes both mesh and point-to-multipoint radios for a range of different bandwidths, including those commonly used for industry standard WiMAX. While Tropos has some large-scale contracts outside the U.S. (including a 1.5 million meter-reading system in Abu Dhabi), its U.S. business consists primarily of municipal utilities like Silicon Valley Power in Santa Clara, Calif.. But these newly announced products sound similar to systems Tropos has been installing for Spokane, Wash.-based investor-owned utility Avista since last year. Tropos CEO Tom Ayers told me about the Avista project last fall, describing a comprehensive distribution automation program aimed at squeezing at least 5 percent greater efficiency out of the grid, as well as a “permanent infrastructure” to add new systems in the future. I’m awaiting a call with Tropos to learn more and will report at Earth2Tech later today — stay tuned.
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