Aclara introduced a mesh-based wide-area network (WAN) for utilities at Autovation 2009. The Aclara Smart Communications Network is a high-bandwidth, standards-based, broadband solution that will bring together existing utility assets and applications into a single network.
The network is designed for use by gas, water, or electric utilities and employs TCP/IP communications protocols as well as IEEE 802.11 standards for wireless communications. It allows utilities to replace multiple, low-to-medium bandwidth systems that now communicate data to utilities. The solution provides a suitable 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.
The Aclara Smart Communications Network can be configured to communicate in mesh, point-to-point, or point-to-multipoint modes over 900 MHz or 2.4/5.8 GHz frequencies. The 900-MHz range handles most network tasks, while the 2.4 GHz/5.8 GHz range provides additional bandwidth and higher data rates for transmitting large amounts of data. The network also conforms to authentication and encryption criteria that meet developing industry security standards.
The Aclara Smart Communications Network is a true standards-based, wireless solution that will encourage utilities to take a top-down approach to managing data communications. Aclara has announced a strategic alliance with wireless infrastructure mesh supplier Firetide Inc. to develop the Aclara Smart Communications Network, which uses Firetide’s MIMO radio technology as well as its network management software. Firetide solutions are now used by many municipalities and enterprises to create strong data networks that stream voice and data, as well as video from security cameras. The technology supports data rates of 1Mb/s to 300 Mb/s, making it suited to handle utility distribution applications.