Trilliant, a provider of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) based on open standards, and Motorola announced that they have co-developed an advanced meter communications solutions for iDEN public and private utility customers.

The solution uses Trilliant’s CellReader solution with Motorola Harmony and Sprint Nextel public, IP-based wireless iDEN communications networks to support energy-usage data collection via packet-data transmission. Jim Hanson, energy and utility industry principle for Motorola’s enterprise mobility business, said the collaboration between the two companies is part of an overall company strategy to provide additional services that utility customers can run over their private, iDEN Harmony networks, such as fixed data applications. “Many of our utility customers buy a licensed version of the iDEN technology called Harmony,” he said. “It is customized for uniquely private uses. They own the network.”

The communications system supports over-the-air switching between public Sprint Nextel and private Motorola Harmony systems, which is a user-owned, digital wireless voice-communications network. The CellReader supports data transfer from meters, said Paul Karr, Trilliant’s vice president of marketing. The device is a single-board device that fits under the glass of the meter, providing meters with RF communications capabilities without requiring the purchase of another modem or communications board. Because it operates on any iDEN wireless network in North America, it enables data communications at practically zero-variable cost, he said.

Utilities benefit from the technology, because they now are completing large-scale AMI deployments and need a solution with longevity that public carriers often cannot provide, such as a guaranteed 15- to 20-year lifecycle, Karr said. “We see a strong interest in solutions for backhaul, wide area networks such as what Motorola provides,” he said. “As a result, a utility has control and assurance of communications during critical need, whether during an outage scenario or the ability to reliably obtain data on a daily basis.”

The joint solution currently supports meter brands for commercial and metering applications, such as the Elster A3 Alpha, GE kV2c+, Itron SENTINEL and Landis+Gyr S4 families of meters, Hanson said.