Grid Net Taps LTE to Rev Up Smart Grid

Smart grid software vendor Grid Net Inc. is looking to distance itself from its WiMax roots as it adds support for Long Term Evolution (LTE) in its PolicyNet smart-grid network management software.

PolicyNet also supports Ethernet, FTTH, 3G HSPA or EV-DO, ZigBee, HomePlug, and WiMax, which has been its major focus since 2009.

According to Andres Carvallo, Grid Net's EVP and chief strategy officer, LTE won't supplant WiMax for the smart grid, but utilities relying on "4G" networks and partnerships with wireless operators in general will become more common going forward.

GridNet says that the all-IP flat network architecture of LTE, like WiMax, makes it well-suited for use by electric utilities and public safety agencies. It has been working on LTE software, firmware, and hardware design technology for the past two years in preparation for global LTE launches.

Why this matters
Grid Net has historically pitched itself as device- and network-agnostic, but it has some major WiMax players on its customer roster, including Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S).

Carvallo says that WiMax is already well entrenched in markets outside the US, including in Australia, where Grid Net works with several customers. The US, however, is quickly becoming an LTE-dominated region. He sees utilities looking to partner with several wireless operators for a hybrid approach that includes multiple standards, depending on the region. (See Sprint Pushes WiMax on the Smart Grid and Grid Net Uses Sprint for Smart Grid.)

Either way, the good news for the wireless operators, who are keen on getting involved in the smart grid, is that utilities are warming up to the idea as well. As more operators deploy LTE, their low-latency, high-bandwidth networks should look more attractive to utilities.

Grid Net has three LTE smart-grid partnerships in the works, but isn't naming any names just yet.

For more
For more on network infrastructure for the smart grid, check out the following stories:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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