Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NRTC lands two new smart grid product offerings

The National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, a service organization with rural telco and utility members, this week added two new offerings to the portfolio of smart grid solutions it offers to its members. The new offerings include wireless communications equipment from Sensus that uses licensed frequencies and a next-generation SCADA offering from Efacec, said NRTC Vice President of Marketing Phil Brenner in an interview with Connected Planet.

Equipment manufacturers such as these like to work with NRTC as a means of breaking into the rural utility market, which consists of about 900 small companies scattered around the country, Brenner said. Meanwhile, NRTC members get better pricing than they would be able to obtain on their own, along with some assurance that products are “rural-ready,” Brenner said.

He noted, for example, that the average rural utility in NRTC has seven customers per mile of line—and some products are only economical for serving urban and metro areas that have dozens of customers per line mile. NRTC, he said, has engineering and business development staff whose job is to verify the functionality of potential new products, along with the business case for the product, before making a product available to NRTC members.

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