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AT&T Expands Smart Grid Ambitions

The carrier is teaming with Cooper Power Systems to sell wireless grid sensors to power utilities.
AT&T is expanding its efforts to create a smarter grid by partnering with Cooper Power Systems to sell wireless grid sensors.

The companies will jointly market and sell two products to utility companies that can help monitor and maintain grids with real-time data connections. The Outage Advisor enables companies to locate problems like faults on electrical lines, and AT&T said it could help predict future outages.

The VARAdvisor monitors the voltage supplied to consumers' homes, and it could potentially reduce the amount of on-site inspections. AT&T said the products will likely only need about 100 Kbps of data to send the information back to the utilities.

"AT&T continues to focus its efforts in building out a robust set of smart grid capabilities for the global utility industry," said Chris Hill, VP of AT&T's mobility product management, in a statement. "By offering Cooper Power Systems' grid sensors, we can now provide businesses the ability to monitor their distribution network in real-time."

The move comes as there is growing focus on improving the efficiencies and speed of U.S. power grids, as the federal stimulus bill could potentially give utility companies up to $11 billion to shift their energy networks to digital technologies. Experts warn these smart grids could be vulnerable to hackers if they are not designed from the ground up with security in mind.

AT&T is not the only carrier looking to use its wireless data network to make power grids more efficient, as earlier this year T-Mobile brought out embedded SIMs that can be used for electricity meters.


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