Aclara and Firetide, Inc. Alliance to Develop Wide-Area Network for Utilities

Sept. 22, 2009

High-bandwidth solution is designed for water, gas and electric utilities

Aclara, part of the Utility Solutions Group of ESCO Technologies Inc., recently announced its strategic alliance with Firetide, Inc., a provider of wireless infrastructure mesh networks. Aclara is developing a revolutionary wide-area network (WAN) for utilities based in part on Firetide’s technology.

The Aclara Smart Communications Network is a high-bandwidth, Ethernet-based wireless broadband solution that will employ TCP/IP communication protocols as well as IEEE 802.11 technology for wireless communications. Designed for gas, water or electric utilities, the solution will bring together existing assets and applications into a single network, replacing multiple low-to-medium bandwidth systems that now communicate data to utilities. The Aclara Smart Communications Network provides an ideal interface to utility and IT resources and back-office applications for SCADA control and monitoring systems, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), home-area networks and mobile workforce applications.

Firetide is providing the multiple-input, multiple-output 802.11n radio technology as well as the network management software required for the Aclara solution to communicate in mesh, point-to-point or point-to-multipoint modes over 900 MHz or 2.4/5.8 GHz frequencies. Firetide solutions are now used by many municipalities and businesses to stream video from security cameras, as well as voice and data for enterprise applications. The technology supports throughput of 1Mb/s to 300 Mb/s in outdoor environments, making it perfectly suited to handle utility distribution applications.

"This partnership combines Firetide’s industry-leading technology and Aclara’s market expertise to deliver a high-value solution for utilities and especially emerging smart grid initiatives,” said Bo Larsson, CEO of Firetide, Inc. “To enable smart grid and other utility applications, public and private utilities need a way to communicate easily and seamlessly—to share data, provide security and enable communications. Firetide wireless infrastructure mesh has emerged as a viable solution to the utilities’ communications need and as a superior alternative to cellular and other types of communications, given its bandwidth and reliable topology.”

The Firetide technology supports the Aclara Smart Communication Network and enables a true enterprise-class, Ethernet-based solution that will encourage utilities to take a top-down approach to managing data communications.

“By employing accepted IT standards, the Aclara Smart Communications Network provides a seamless connection between the utility LAN and the smart applications, devices and subsystems that comprise the utility infrastructure,” said Mark Thompson, vice president of strategic communication networks for Aclara.

“The use of the widely accepted Ethernet standards combined with wireless mesh technology provides simple, secure and reliable interoperability to a wide range of systems within electric, gas and water utilities,” Thompson said.

Source: Aclara