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COMMERCIAL FEATURE based communications technology on a global platform that utilizes a powerful microcontroller to drive an RF and PLC front end in a highly innovative software- defined radio solution that delivers dual- communication capability from the same chip at an attractive price point. The result is the next generation of communications technology that delivers seamless communications to smart meters and other grid devices with minimal network infrastructure while delivering what we like to call ‘assured connectivity’. Extending the capabilities and performance of OpenWay ACT was initially designed for the OpenWay network, Itron’s industry leading smart grid platform that features multi- application IPv6 architecture, jointly developed by Itron and Cisco, the global leader in networking technology. However, it is also designed on a global and highly modular platform that will enable ACT to be embedded in third-party grid devices to drive continuous expansion of a smart grid technology ecosystem. By enabling each connected device to intelligently find and utilize the best, fastest and most reliable communications path – whether RF or PLC – and choosing among multiple modulation schemes in every circumstance at every level of the network, ACT can eliminate many of the costly compromises and performance trade-offs that utilities continually make in specifying a communication technology to address the full diversity of their service territories and use case requirements. And because it was designed on a global technology platform utilizing software-defined communications technology, ACT is also readily adaptable to support the specific communication standards and protocols in use in countries and regions throughout the world. With the addition of ACT, OpenWay delivers a network solution that is ideally suited to highly urbanized and dense metropolitan service environments, ACT provides an equally attractive solution for the extended lower-density and rural environments of a utility’s service territory. Extending Itron-Cisco architecture ACT builds on the multi-application network capabilities (network management, QoS, standardized security model) of the Itron-Cisco solution to support a continually expanding set of smart grid use cases and applications, including distribution automation, grid sensing, and integration of distributed energy resources. ACT integrates into the Cisco Connected Grid Router, the data collection device for the OpenWay network. In addition, ACT endpoints are managed through Cisco’s Connected Grid Network Management System, providing a single ‘pane of glass’ to monitor and manage all utility smart grid network assets and endpoints. In addition, ACT and Itron’s cellular communication modules can be deployed side-by-side, under the same single network management system and a single data acquisition and management solution – thus providing the ultimate in communication flexibility. The value of ACT ACT fundamentally shifts the paradigm of smart metering and smart grid communications by eliminating the ‘80% rule’ from smart grid network METERING INTERNATIONAL ISSUE - 4 | 2014 communications choices. This fundamental change creates new value for utilities in two important ways: • Reducing deployment cost, difficulty and risk Because ACT technology will automatically determine the best path over the network and can instantly adapt to changing conditions, deployment of network infrastructure becomes easier, faster and less costly. This flattens the cost curve significantly during the latter stages of network deployment when the ‘hard-to-reach’ meters are addressed. This also greatly reduces the level of effort needed for up-front network design and propagation studies, while also achieving connectivity with all devices using the minimal amount of network infrastructure possible. • Smart metering to smart grid For many utilities throughout the world, smart metering may be the first application to be deployed as part of grid modernization efforts. The OpenWay platform, utilizing ACT, provides an ideal infrastructure for smart metering applications by delivering assured high- speed network performance without compromising connectivity. By leveraging both the IEEE 1901.2 PLC standard and the 802.15.4g standard for RF, ACT over the OpenWay IPv6 network delivers the speed (up to 5x the speed of other current network offerings), performance and reliability required to support advanced smart grid applications beyond metering. The takeaway is clear: deploy a communication network solution that will support not only your smart metering requirements of today, but will also support the full spectrum of smart grid requirements if and when you need those capabilities tomorrow. Itron’s Adaptive Communications Technology (which will be featured at European Utility Week in Amsterdam, November, 4-6) under the OpenWay network is ready for whatever the future will bring. MI ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tim Wolf is marketing director for Itron’s electricity business line. He is responsible for marketing and communications for Itron’s global electricity and smart grid business. He is a regular speaker at industry conferences, and writer for the industry trade press. ABOUT THE COMPANY: Itron is a world-leading technology and services company dedicated to the resourceful use of energy and water. The company provides comprehensive solutions that measure, manage and analyze energy and water. Itron’s broad product portfolio includes electricity, gas, water and thermal energy measurement devices; communications systems; software; as well as managed and consulting services. 61