T&D World Magazine

Aclara, Firetide Introduce Wireless, Mesh-Based Wide-Area Network

ESCO Technologies Inc. has acquired a minority interest in Firetide Inc., a provider of wireless infrastructure mesh networks, and through its Aclara RF Systems Inc. subsidiary, has entered into a strategic alliance agreement with Firetide.

Aclara and Firetide have developed a wide-area network (WAN) for utility customers based in part on Firetide’s wireless networking technology.

Aclara’s Smart Communications Network solution is a high-bandwidth, high-speed, standards-based flexible communication system that will employ TCP/IP communication protocols as well as IEEE 802.11 technology for wireless communications. Designed for gas, water or electric utilities, this network solution will bring together existing utility assets and applications into a single, two-tiered network architecture that will replace multiple low-to-medium bandwidth systems currently used to communicate data.

The Aclara Smart Communications Network provides a suitable interface between utility and IT resources and back-office applications for SCADA control and monitoring systems, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems, home-area networks and mobile workforce applications.

Firetide is providing the MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) radio technology and the network management software required for the Aclara solution to communicate in mesh, point-to-point, or point-to-multipoint modes. Firetide solutions are currently being used by many municipalities and businesses to stream video from security cameras, as well as voice and data for enterprise-wide applications. The technology supports data throughput rates of 1Mb/s to 300 Mb/s in outdoor environments, making it suited to handle utility distribution applications. This Smart Communications Network solution matches the speed and performance of a fiber network at a fraction of the cost.

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