Power giant ABB to acquire wireless mesh firm Tropos

Swiss power giant ABB plans to acquire wireless mesh networking company Tropos Networks, the companies announced on Friday. Founded in 2000, Tropos started out making wireless networks for cities and emergency responders (remember MuniFi), and more recently has been selling its wireless mesh networks to utilities for smart grid deployments.

The companies didn’t release terms of the deal. Tropos has 55 employees and is based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Tropos’ customers include Burbank Water and Power, Anderson Municipal Power and Light, DTE Energy, Glendale Water and Power, and a variety of other municipal utilities.

ABB, and other power companies like Siemens, have been on acquisition sprees in recent months, buying up hardware and software companies to add digital intelligence to their power gear products. Siemens bought eMeter late last year. ABB also invests in startups through its venture arm and the power company has invested around $100 million into energy-related startups over the past two years.

The smart grid has been a hot area of investment, and will continue to grow globally, though will likely slow down a bit in the U.S. over the next two years. Less than 4 percent of the world’s 1.5 billion electricity meters were smart in 2008, and that figure grew to over 18 percent by 2012, according to Pike Research. The numbers of smart meters installed is expected to jump to 55 percent by 2020.