T&D World Magazine

ZigBee-Based Utility Meters Help China Handle Housing Boom

With China expected to build more than 70 million new homes over the next 10 years, China’s Holley Metering Ltd is rolling out a new wireless automated meter reading system that will help the country’s public utilities better deal with its unprecedented housing boom. Based on Ember Corporation’s ZigBee technology, the new AMR system will potentially save China’s utility providers millions of Yuan and improve service delivery by eliminating the need to manually read meters at homeowners’ premises.

The ZigBee-based AMR system creates self-forming, self-healing wireless mesh networks across neighborhoods and apartment complexes that link meters with utilities’ corporate offices. They can remotely monitor a residence’s electric, gas and water usage more efficiently with fewer errors and at lower costs, while improving customer service. Although Holley Metering currently offers a total wireless AMR solution based on GSM/GPRS/CDMA mobile networks designed for industrial and commercial applications, the technology and infrastructure requirements are too costly for wide-scale deployment in the residential field.

“This year, Shanghai will build towers with more living and working space than there is in all the towers in New York City,” said Tony Delgado, Ember's director of business development for Asia. “The ease, efficiency and lower cost of standards-based ZigBee wireless networks is the most logical way to meet the residential metering demands of China’s explosive housing market.”

Holley Metering, China’s largest utility meter manufacture and AMR system/solution provider, will initially launch a family of Ember-enabled electric meters, with plans to develop gas and water meters later in 2006. The company will roll out its new AMR system in China, but it intends to export the system to the 30 countries in which it currently does business.

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