The march of the telecoms into the smart grid space continues.

Cooper Power Systems announced Wedensday that it will use AT&T's wireless data networks to link two of its distribution grid sensor devices – outage monitors and voltage sensors.

Cooper makes a wide range of devices to monitor and control power flow on the electricity grid, as well as in-home smart thermostats through its Cannon Technologies Inc., subsidiary. It has deals with PG&E, Baltimore Gas and Electric and other utilities to supply power demand management and energy efficiency services (see The Smart Home, Part I).

AT&T, for its part, has been making a push into the smart grid space this year. In March it said it would work with smart meter networking company SmartSynch to link residential smart meters to utility back offices - a relationship the two already had for commercial and industrial smart meters (see Your Electrical Meter Becomes a Cellphone).

Other telecommunications companies have been making similar partnerships to capitalize on the investments going into bringing two-way communications and controls to the electricity grid. T-Mobile USA is working with smart meter and building automation company Echelon Corp. (NSDQ: ELON) on a similar smart meter integration partnership (see Echelon, T-Mobile Team on Smart Meter Contracts).

Using cellular networks to link utility devices is a fairly common way of doing things in Europe, but less so in North America so far, where utility-owned wireless RF mesh networks have taken the lion's share of deployments in connecting smart meters (see RF Mesh, ZigBee Top North American Utilities' Wish Lists).

Of course, Cooper's deal with AT&T is different, in that the two will be linking devices farther up the distribution grid than the meters that sit at homes and residences.

Smart grid networking providers like Trilliant and Silver Spring Networks are also seeking to work in that space – Silver Spring in partnership with ABB and Trilliant with its acquisition of WiFi-based high-bandwidth communications provider SkyPilot (see Trilliant Buys SkyPilot for End-to-End Smart Grid Communications).