TMCnews Featured Article

October 29, 2009

FCC Should Free Up Spectrum for Smart Grids: Expert

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor

Smart grids have seen strong representation among applications for federal funding under the umbrella “economic stimulus” package, an official with a Morrisville, N.C.-based provider of end-to-end solutions for mobility and fixed network applications told TMCnet in a recent podcast.
According to Gary Croke, who works in product marketing at Harris Stratex (News - Alert) Networks, a number of utilities are “going down the WiMAX road” as regards smart grids, which updates traditional power grids by carrying electricity using digital technology.
“Specifically, I think the main application for WiMAX (News - Alert) in utilities right now is for smart meter backhaul, as a cheaper, more secure, higher coverage solution to replace 3G backhaul,” Croke told TMCnet. “I think that’s the first, predominant aplpication for WiMAX in that space.”
Croke’s company, through services offered on a dedicated Web site, has been helping service providers with grant and loan applications through to end-to-end broadband network design, deployment and support.
The economic stimulus package signed into law earlier this year ear-marked $7.2 billion in grant and loan funding for broadband initiatives for rural, unserved, and underserved geographies. Applications were due last month. With a delay announced this week – a delay that’s frustrating lawmakers – broadband stimulus grant and loan awards have been pushed back to December.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Smart Grid Investment Grant Program has also appropriated $4.5 billion to fund the improvements towards the deployment of smart grid technology.
According to Croke, for broadband stimulus, issues associated with available spectrum largely have been solved, the availability specific licensed bands.
“I don’t think that same situation exists for stimulus programs such as smart grid,” he told TMCnet. “I think the FCC (News - Alert) really needs to do a little bit more work to free up some spectrum, specifically for smart grid. Perhaps akin to the 1.8 GHz solution that’s been offered in Canada for utilities”
Listen to the entire podcast here.

Michael Dinan is a group managing editor for TMCnet, overseeing TMCnet's Web editorial team and covering news in the IP communications, CRM and VoIP industries. He also oversees production of e-Newsletters in the areas of 4G wireless technology and smart products. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan