Grid Net, which develops software and other technology for broadband communication on the grid, has netted another notable friend.
Landis + Gyr has agreed to resell Grid Net's software for meters, switches and other devices in Australia and New Zealand. Conceivably, this could lead to the development of Landis + Gyr WiMax-based smart meters loaded with Grid Net's software in deployments down under. Landis + Gyr also has an option to expand the relationship globally.
"They are licensing the entire product line," said Andres Carvallo, Grid Net's chief strategy officer.
General Electric already resells Grid Net's software and licenses the company's reference design for meters. GE has deployed the technology for a smart meter rollout with SP Ausnet. The total market for smart meters in Australia is around 20 million meters, according to Carvallo. The next step will be to try to expand to other geographies.
"We are about to come out with a new product line" in the U.S., he added.
Of course, landing strategic partners and going global is the strategy of everyone right now in the smart grid market. In North America, utilities thus far have gravitated toward low-bandwidth mesh networking -- the sort of technology promoted by Silver Spring Networks and others -- for meters. Some companies, such as CenterPoint Energy, use WiMax for communications between transformers and field assets but use mesh for communication to meters. Powerline networking, meanwhile, still remains popular in Europe, despite complaints that the system can be costly.
Together, GE and Landis + Gyr control about 45 percent of the market for smart meters. Only a small fraction of that total actually revolves around WiMax smart meters. Still, landing an alliance is sometimes the most difficult part, so having a foot in the door is a good sign for Grid Net.
Grid Net makes software compatible with ZigBee, HomePlug, Ethernet, fiber and WiMax. 3G and LTE are missing at the moment.
"Stay tuned," said Carvallo.