RALEIGH, NC - November 4, 2008
Sensus officials announce that its FlexNet data collection system now operates with a widely expanded data rate, thanks to upgraded modulation just released to AMI electric utility customers.
This upgrade doubles the data rate of FlexNet, taking its frequency shift key settings (FSK) from 7 to 13 FSK. Sensus officials say this expansion is part of continued data rate enhancements, as other modulation upgrades are already in development. In the AMI industry FlexNet endpoints uniquely employ “software defined radios” which means that modulations, protocols, frequency of operation and even data rate can be upgraded in the field via code download.
Sensus utility customers, including one that has fielded more than 230,000 FlexNet solid-state iCon™ meters, have begun converting to this expanded data rate. In fact, 13 FSK has been deployed on all of the first system’s 20 Tower Gateway Base Stations, and more than 90,000 meters without a single site visit.
Officials are reporting excellent results including the anticipated doubling of message throughput, 99.9% read interval success and an average read time of 4 hours. In just seconds the “read on demand” function provides kWh (or kVAh) forward and reverse, voltage, peak demand, current, line frequency, and meter temperature from any meter. 13 FSK increases the capacity of outage reporting, sent directly from the meter without the need for supercaps (supercaps do not support a 20 year mean time between failure, MTBF).
Sensus’ Executive Vice President, Conservation Solutions, Bill Yeates, notes that FlexNet’s primary use licensed spectrum, which now combines with Sensus ongoing data rate expansion project, truly positions FlexNet as providing the long term reliability and investment protection our electric utility customers seek in this ever changing world.
“Our customers expect Sensus to lead growth in the AMI industry, and utilities are looking for an AMI system that minimizes infrastructure and risk, while also providing the platform for technology advancements and system growth. The FlexNet system, along with our smart metering technology, serves as the Smart Grid communication network, and it is designed to help utilities conserve both resources and capital,” Yeates said.
A ripple-effect of benefits
Sensus’ expanded data rate technology presents a host of benefits for customers. First, because more data can funnel through the system, fewer tower gateway base stations are needed, further reducing infrastructure. This benefit lowers operating costs, which also reduces the utility’s carbon footprint for maintenance. Also, greater data rates allow for data transmission that supports 5 and 15 minute reads while maintaining minimum network infrastructure. And to further save utility resources, conversion of existing meters to the 13 FSK can be done over the air for fast, reliable upgrades. Present meter shipments include 13 FSK in the firmware baseline.
“Multi-level, phase continuous FSK modulation was conceived nearly 10 years ago to provide significant performance benefits and expandability specifically for the special demands of utility applications. This is all part of Sensus’ core strategy to provide upgradability and accessibility at every level of the FlexNet system. The FlexNet tower base station architecture was modeled after Cellular networks which have been successful in adapting to ever increasing capacity demands and feature sets. FlexNet is the only AMI system offering minimum network infrastructure and providing easy access 19″ RF rack mounted network equipment which afford utilities ready field upgradability to support the developing Smart Grid. Long term commitment to a program of continual product improvement for FlexNet users is a crucial responsibility of a technology leader such as Sensus. This is indicative of the planning and innovation the industry should expect to see in future Sensus Smart Grid announcements,” said Britton Sanderford, Chief Technology Officer at Sensus.
FlexNet is the utility industry’s most powerful, broadly fielded AMI solution that provides customers with the technology to achieve unmatched results in range, redundancy, resiliency, recovery and reliability. Only FlexNet has primary-use, FCC licensed spectrum, supplying uncluttered transmissions for water, gas and electric utilities in both rural and urban areas, regardless of terrain. FlexNet fits seamlessly into a utility’s operational and customer service strategic plan, enabling communication with a complete range of endpoint devices providing a highly secured platform for the Smart Grid. FlexNet technology reduces cost, mitigates technology risk, enables pricing flexibility and demand response, and improves operation and maintenance efficiency for forward-thinking utilities. The FlexNet solution is totally upgradeable; from the endpoint firmware through the rack based collector and the network interface, protecting the total infrastructure investment from obsolescence for years to come. The Sensus FlexNet solution helps utilities improve their customers experience, reduce their carbon footprint and protect their capital investment.
About Sensus Metering Systems
The Sensus Metering Systems companies are leading world-class providers of water, gas, heat and electric meters including comprehensive metering communications system solutions that comprise both automatic meter reading (“AMR”) and advanced metering infrastructure (“AMI”) systems. Additional linked businesses include Smith-Blair, Inc. a leading provider of pipe clamp & coupling products for the water, gas, and industrial markets; and Sensus Precision Die Casting a producer of complex, high quality die castings.
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