Just last week, Whisper went bankrupt with no buyer yet in sight. A few months ago, CellNet, a market leader went bankrupt and sold at a garage sale to Schlumberger. There are others on life support. When you see these AMR providers at utility trade shows, you note that virtually none of them have customers. The point is that this is not yet a real business. Until AMR is accepted by utilities, Itron and the rest are dreaming. Is there anything to indicate that utilities are going to buy in significant numbers?
AMR vendors such as Hunt and DCSI have customers. Schlumberger, Siemens, Badger, AM, AI and Itron have customers also.
Utilities will continue to buy in significant numbers when the point price drops. Utilities are less responsive to changes in the AMR technology as they are to changes in the price of that technology. Suffice to say, the winning AMR vendors will be the ones that can chop the comm module price. We tried wireless networks. But I expect that fiber to the home (FTTH) will carve the next wave of gateway/AMR excitement in the industy, especially as more and more utilities diversify into telecom (including munis, the largest group).
Schlumberger Resource Management Services (RMS) and Domosys Corp. will integrate the companies� metering and communications technologies to create an electric meter for residential and light commercial customers.
Domosys� CEBus� PL communication technology will be integrated into the Schlumberger solid-state residential CENTRONTM meter so that customer usage data can be transmitted directly over AC power lines to a wide area network gateway. The breakthrough technology application links the meter to the residential and commercial power line LAN, which extends the benefits of meter usage data and reduces the total cost of end-to-end communication from the meter to the utility.
The CEBus PL card for the CENTRON meter was developed from Domosys core technology. The principal hardware component is the Domosys CEWay PL-One chip which integrates both an 8052 microcontroller and a high-performance power line transceiver. The firmware is generated from the Domosys CEBox tool. The CENTRON meter with the CEBus PL card will comply with the CEBus Standard and the Home Plug & Play TM Specification, North America�s open standards for control networks.
The two-part design of the Schlumberger CENTRON meter allows for rapid OEM module development, facilitating quicker time to market for integrated communication technology. First units with the integrated CEBus PL technology will be available in Q4 1999.
The CENTRON meter with the CEBus PL card complements Domosys products such as the DomoMeterTM, an appliance power monitoring and load shedding module. The communicating meter-appliance module combination makes intelligent load shedding and time-of-use pricing programmes effective and affordable, giving utilities a tool to counter the effects of fluctuating peaks in demand.
Whisper employees were notified last Wednesday and Thursday. Offsite sales and project people were notified via conference call hookup. There is a skeleton management staff left to dispose of assets, seek buyers for technology, turn off the lights etc.