As a matter of fact, the partnership began a couple of months ago, Joyce recalled, when Ambient and Itron created a way to incorporate into a utility's smart grid platform older Itron technology.
“That was the initial focus,” he explained -- taking some meters that were deployed and still part of the rate base and incorporating them into the evolving smart grid so as not to create stranded assets.
The pair found their engineering teams could pull into the communications network more regular reads than were happening in a drive-by system and bring the data back to the central office.
“That led to looking at different ways to incorporate Itron's core consumer and commercial AMI technologies with Ambient's high-capacity communications network for a complete utility-to-the-home smart grid solution,” said Joyce.
Ambient has been focused for a decade on “the digital communication backbone and the element-management system” that delivers advanced metering and other smart grid initiatives, Joyce reminded.
In addition to Ambient's X-3000 node, the pact with Itron includes Ambient's network management system. Itron is contributing AMR and AMI technology.
Ambient sees “huge” opportunities working with both older and newer Itron technology, Joyce said.
Itron and Ambient are set to jointly market their collaborative offerings to utilities.
BOTTOM LINE: That mention of stranded assets goes to the heart of a deep concern for utilities as they feel the pressure to replace equipment that, as we sometimes say, “ain't broke.”