GE announces first US WiMAX-based smart-grid pilot

GE announced the first U.S. smart-grid pilot program that will incorporate WiMAX technology with Consumers Energy in Michigan.

Using WiMAX and GE smart meters, the goal of the pilot is to demonstrate how real-time wireless communications between meters in the home and the utility's network management and control systems can improve efficiency and reliability of electricity transmission.

"This infrastructure solution could be significant in its ability to provide far more real-time information and updates to distributed intelligent metering devices over utility equipment lifespans," Wayne Longcore, director of enterprise architecture and standards for Consumers Energy, said in a release.

GE said the pilot is especially timely given the FCC's recently introduced National Broadband Plan, which spelled out the need for improving communications infrastructure to modernize the electric grid. GE teamed with Intel to develop a WiMAX chip that is embedded in its smart meters.

"GE's pilot falls directly in line with the plan's call for a potent, clearly defined reliable and integrated infrastructure to strengthen America's energy future and enable the promise of the smart grid to become reality," the company said.

Other US utilities have voiced interest in WiMAX. CenterPoint Energy in Texas wants to install smart meters for its 2.4 million customers in Houston using a self-contained WiMAX network. National Grid, the country's second-largest utility, is establishing a proof-of-concept solution using Alvarion's WiMAX gear as part of a test bed for potential pilot projects in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

For more:
- see this release

Related articles:
Will WiFi and WiMAX become beneficiaries of the smart grid?
Smart grids: The next wireless goldmine?
FCC looks to bridge broadband, smart grid in national broadband plan