Echelon Corp and T-Mobile USA, Inc. will partner to accelerate the adoption of the smart grid in the U.S. by using T-Mobile's wireless network to communicate data from meters to utilities, the companies said on Thursday.
Echelon will embed a T-Mobile memory card known as a ‘SIM’ inside a cellular radio device to enable Echelon's smart meters to communicate back to the utility over the smart grid, Echelon said in a released statement.
“Aggressive pricing plans have made the use of the public cellular networks as the backhaul of smart grid systems the norm in Europe,” Jim Andrus, an Echelon vice president said in a statement. “We believe the programs we have put in place with T-Mobile can have the same impact on the North American market.”
Upgrading the U.S. power grid is a major task needed to boost the development of renewable power sources, enabling the grid to also provide power to electric cars, according to experts. Bill Richardson, former U.S. Secretary of Energy once called the nation's grid, a third-world-electrical-grid.
Under President Obama's administration, the Department of Energy, with funds from the economic stimulus package, announced it would provide grants of $500,000 to $20 million to cover up to 50 percent of a smart grid technology project.