EnergyAustralia rules out commercial WiMAX interests  

Posted by Big Gav in

SmartMeters.com reports at local utility EnergyAustralia are't interested in the convergence between power and internet utility provision yet, even with their smart meter rollout underway - EnergyAustralia rules out commercial WiMAX interests.

Despite EnergyAustralia’s growing fiber and WiMAX-based infrastructure in New South Wales, the energy retailer has opted against becoming a retail service provider (RSP) under the National Broadband Network (NBN). EnergyAustralia has established a wide-ranging network consisting of 800km of fiber infrastructure, and is in the process of deploying 140 WiMAX base towers around the state to transmit electricity usage information from smart meters to data collection units and mobile field devices. As part of its winning bid for the Smart Grid, Smart City initiative, EnergyAustralia will roll out smart meters to 50,000 homes along with in-house monitors that will eventually connecting to 20 of its WiMAX base stations.

EnergyAustralia is using the grid pilot as a test for the National Broadband Network. The utility’s intelligent networks manager, Adrian Clark, told Computerworld Australia, “When we looked at the initiative through the tender process we highlighted a range of potential opportunities to investigate. In the areas where the NBN is looking to go on wireless infrastructure, clearly we’ll obviously be able to have further discussions with them around what we’re doing around that area.”

While trials for the fiber-to-the-home aspect of the NBN have started, trials for the wireless aspects of the network, which are expected to ultimately provide 12Mbps broadband speeds to between four and seven per cent of regional Australians, have not yet been determined.

Clark also told Computerworld that EnergyAustralia had already ruled out being a “service provider. That’s not the intent of building the network, we haven’t architected to do that and, to be quite honest with you, we don’t have enough spectrum or enough base stations to ever really look at that as a business model.” He also noted that the utility is “focused on getting the network built and getting the key things we’ve got to deliver. It’s really designed around the thousands and thousands of machine to machine points we have on the network, our intention isn’t to design it for those high end customer devices.”

EnergyAustralia, whose WiMAX network operates on a 15MHz band of 2.3GHz radio spectrum, expects to utilize as many as two million smart meters and 3,000 mobile field computers on the network once the deployment of the smart grid completed.

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