Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Bluetooth, WiMax; what does this all mean? As the BAS industry continues to integrate and articulates interoperable solutions, the wireless communication medium is becoming an economical solution for both new and retrofit buildings. A plethora of communication standards are available from low distance, low powered to high carrier grade protocols. Which standard fits the building automation applications? ALL. As the industry diversifies to integrate with other industries such as IT and utilities, almost all the standard wireless communication protocols become prominent to the BAS industry. It is up to the vendor to synergize the protocols with his respective product mix to obtain an advantage in the market. This article examines the common wireless protocols and their potential usage in the BAS market.
While there are about 17.7 million WiMAX subscribers around the world, and the WiMAX Forum estimates there will be 45 million by 2013, the future of the technology is looking bleak. Declan Byrne, director of marketing at the WiMAX Forum, admits that when it comes to mobile broadband, Long Term Evolution technology has won, which leaves WiMAX as an also-ran for mobile networks and searching for new applications, like the smart grid, to keep the tech alive and the standards organization afloat.
The battle of WiMAX vs. LTE for 4G mobile cellular carriers such as AT&T and Verizon is decided with LTE the general winner.
However, WiMAX is not out of the ecosystem by any means.
WiMAX will be the solution of choice for a variety of niche applications, such as supporting the smart grid, public safety, private citywide communications, and more.
Will the smart grid be the savior of the wireless standard WiMAX? When it comes to the next-generation of wireless broadband known as 4G, WiMAX has generally been taking a back seat to the more telco-friendly LTE (or long term evolution). But in an interview with Mark Madden, Vice President of Energy Markets for Americas for telco gear company Alcatel-Lucent, he tells me that “many” of the 4G smart grid networks that the company is helping utility customers build right now are based on WiMAX.
CenterPoint Energy has only good things to say about power line networking, except when it comes to the cost.
The energy delivery company conducted a trial earlier in the decade with power line networking in approximately 10,000 homes, said Ken Murphy, Director of Intelligent Grid Deployment at the company, during a talk at NI Week, a conference sponsored by test and measurement specialist National Instruments taking place in Austin. Because of the high bandwidth that power line offers, the company also gave computers to consumers who were participating in the test.
The smart grid is a network and one company can’t provide all of the end-to-end gear or software. That’s why strategic partnerships will be key for companies, particularly startups. This morning Grid Net, the smart meter software startup that has been building a smart grid ecosystem around the wireless standard WiMAX, announced that it’s partnered with software heavyweight Oracle to sell its network and meter management software.
Utility company Energy Australia is planning to build a $50 million WiMax wireless network as part of a smartgrid roll-out in the Sydney-Newcastle area. The development will, among other things, enable time-based pricing, which has been successfully resisted by consumers of a similar system in Victoria, after they discovered the system would see them paying more for electricity.
Any smart grid is a telecommunications network for the utility and the communities it serves. 4G technologies provide any power utility with the most cost effective technology in monitoring the grid from power production to power consumption. Not only will a 4G smart grid read meters, they will also provide a range of cost saving services to the utility and the community as a whole. Mind Commerce’s new research 4G and WiMAX for the Smart Grid: Enabling Access, Applications and Affordability proposes WiMAX as a Last Mile or “Access” solution to provide a range of smart grid solutions or “Applications” which, when compared with other smart grid technologies such as Broadband over Power Line (BPL) come in at less than half the cost per household reached offering industry leading “Affordability” figures.
Electrical equipment manufacturer Cooper Industries expanded its Smart Grid strategy today with the acquisition of wireless networking provider Eka Systems.
The deal is significant because it shows just how hard it is for smaller wireless networking companies like Eka to compete in an increasingly crowded field dominated by generously-backed players like Trilliant and Silver Spring Networks — not to mention the SmartSynchs of the world using public networks for grid communications, or Grid Net, working to popularize WiMAX. There are simply too many companies vying to be the choice for beaming energy data between smart meters and utilities.
Utilities were excited at first by the high-bandwidth, long-haul capabilities of the wireless communications technology WiMax in the smart grid.
That excitement has waned. High costs and coverage gaps led many to favor alternatives for tasks other than simple “backhaul” data transmission to and from local collection points.