ABB (www.abb.com) is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 145,000 people. The company’s North American operations, headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, employ about 30,000 people in multiple manufacturing, service, engineering and other major facilities.

Utility/Smart Grid Wireless Communication Networks

All utilities – electric, gas, water and wastewater – deliver vital services to customers. Customers expect these services to be available at all times.

Key challenges shared by utilities include reliability, fast response to problems, and efficiency. Many utilities have installed smart grid systems – including two-way communications – to improve efficiency, security, reliability and resiliency.

When implementing a smart grid, utilities install intelligent devices in their distribution system, management and control software in substations and their data center, and two-way smart grid communications to link the devices and software. A smart grid enables valuable new applications such as automated metering infrastructure (AMI), distribution automation, outage management, automatic load shedding, and the ability to manage alternative energy sources. The same wireless smart grid communication network that supports these applications can also enable mobile workforce applications in the field.

While smart grid is generally associated with electric utilities, the same concepts can be applied by gas, water and wastewater utilities to great benefit.

Smart grid benefits for utilities include:

Lower operating costs – Fewer personnel required in the field, lowering transportation, insurance, and medical costs. Detailed data uncovers problems quickly and reduces fraud.

Encourages conservation – Customers can see their usage at any time, helping conservation efforts, and quickly detecting water leaks or faulty thermostats so corrective action can be quickly taken.

Improves customer service and satisfaction – Utilities can pinpoint system problems – leaks or outages – before customers report them, reducing downtime.

Reduces customer complaints – High-quality, real-time data increases billing accuracy, eliminating estimated bills, and unpleasant surprises for customers.

High-speed wireless broadband access using a Tropos network is being used to enable smart grid applications to achieve significant cost savings and meet conservation goals.

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