Coalitions appear to be the spring fashion trend for smart grid. After a recent announcement of a customer coalition, SmartSynch has announced GridRouter EcoSystem, a communications group with the mission to establish an interoperable, IP-based communications network for the grid.

The coalition is an integral part of SmartSynch’s GridRouter, a modular, standards-based networking device that can handle virtually any communications protocol and can be upgraded at a utility’s whim.

“For whatever reason in smart grid, it’s still focused on proprietary solutions and not something that opens the market up,” said SmartSynch CEO Stephen Johnston. “The point of the GridRouter was to solve the communications strategy.”

The GridRouter, Johnston argues, is intended to be an open, modular, secure and most importantly, adaptable product for the market. The EcoSystem group that backs the GridRouter is focused on collaboration, not competition, according to Johnston, with an effort to build a system that operates on global standards.

Current partners include AT&T, Motorola, Cooper Power Systems, Battelle, T-Mobile, Rogers Communications, Itron, Daviscomms USA, Futaba Corporation in Japan and AuthenTec, which acquired SafeNet’s Embedded Security Solutions. Johnston said more partners will be announced in the near future.

SmartSynch, based in Jackson, Miss., is confident that the coalition-backed hardware can answer the needs of any utility, especially because it allows them to upgrade their grid systems incrementally.

“Some utilities picked solutions two or three years ago to make the grid smarter, and nothing’s happened,” said Johnston. “Whether you blame it on the debates around security, DOE funding, or anything else, the bottom line is you have to create the architecture that allows the utility to deploy economically.”

SmartSynch expects to publish the results from pilot projects with multiple utilities in the next 60 to 90 days.