GE, Quirky launch connected air-conditioning unit

GE has taken the wraps off a new connected air-conditioning unit developed in partnership with engineering company Quirky and aimed at lowering energy costs for US consumers.

Branded Aros, the unit represents Quirky’s (New York City, NY, USA) first major connected appliance but the fifth product that has been launched in collaboration with GE (Fairfield, CT, USA), which announced a tie-up with Quirky back in April 2013.

In a statement, GE said that Aros is immediately available through Amazon.com and will be sold through major US retailers from May.

Telefonica SmartSantander project to become smart-cities blueprint

Telefonica claims its pioneering SmartSantander project has exceeded initial expectations and could become a blueprint for the development of smart cities in future.

Launched three years ago with a budget of €8.67 million ($11.93 million), the project in Santander has made use of an array of M2M and Internet of Things technologies, delivering benefits in areas including energy and traffic management and healthcare.

Cellular nodes for smart grids set to boom: Navigant Research

Annual revenue generated from the sale of public cellular communications nodes for smart grid applications will rise from $75.4 million in 2013 to $348.3 million in 2018, according to the latest study from Navigant Research.

While utilities have numerous communications options for connecting nodes on the power grid – including fiber, copper leased line networks and power line communications – there has been an upsurge of interest in the use of cellular networks in recent years.

New Zealand government establishes Smart Grid Forum

New Zealand’s government has set up a new Smart Grid Forum charged with advancing the deployment of smart electricity networks in the country.

In a statement, energy and resources minister Simon Bridges said that New Zealand needed to develop smarter electricity systems in future to cope with demand for emerging technologies as well as changing consumer preferences.

“The new Smart Grid Forum will provide a platform for information-sharing about these new challenges and opportunities, as well as providing advice on the deployment of a smart grid in New Zealand,” he said.

UPA says replaced 150,000 meters for OUC in system-wide upgrade

Utility Partners of America (UPA) says it has already replaced about 150,000 digital electric meters as part of a system-wide smart-meter upgrade for the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC).

Noting that work on the OUC (Orlando, FL, USA) project is proceeding according to plan, the smart-meter player said the rollout would allow OUC to offer a “smarter energy choice” to customers benefiting from the new technology.

Apex CoVantage wins tender in VIWAPA smart-grid deployment

Apex CoVantage says it has been chosen to supply installation and project-management services to the US Virgin Islands Water & Power Authority (VIWAPA) as part of the utility’s smart-metering deployment.

The smart-grid specialist claims to have been selected during a “competitive bidding process, from a group of highly capable companies”.

Apex (Herndon, VA, USA) has developed a full enterprise resource planning platform for mobile workforce management – branded ProField – and this platform will be used to manage various deployment activities on the VIWAPA project.

China demands explanation from US on Huawei spying report

Reuters

China wants a clear explanation from Washington over a report that the U.S. National Security Agency infiltrated servers at the headquarters of telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co., a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Hong Lei, the spokesman, said China was "extremely concerned" about the spying allegations.

"Recently, the international media has put out a lot of reports about the eavesdropping, surveillance and stealing of secrets by the United States of other countries, including China," he told a regular briefing.

Cisco joins cloud computing race with $1 billion plan: WSJ

Cisco Systems Inc plans to offer cloud computing services, pledging to spend $1 billion over the next two years to enter a market currently led by the world's biggest online retailer Amazon.com Inc, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Cisco (San Jose, CA, USA) said it will spend the amount to build data centers to help run the new service called Cisco Cloud Services, the Journal reported.

Cisco, which mainly deals in networking hardware, wants to take advantage of companies' desire to rent computing services rather than buying and maintaining their own machines.

Egypt unified telecom licence to be activated before June 30: minister

Reuters

Egypt's Telecommunications Minister Atef Helmy said on Sunday the country's long awaited unified telecom licence for both mobiles and landlines will be activated within three months.

The licence would allow telecommunication companies to operate fixed-line and mobile networks, which would in turn allow Egypt's fixed-line monopoly Telecom Egypt (Cairo) to offer mobile services.

Sprint cuts jobs, closes stores as part of broader plan

Reuters

Sprint Corp cut 330 jobs and closed 55 stores around the country this week, as part of an ongoing plan to shrink its workforce in 2014, Cnet.com reported.

The third largest U.S. mobile operator would not specify the number of jobs lost, but said it will retain 85 percent of employees affected by the closings.

The operator also closed call centers in New York, Kansas, California and is shrinking centers in Florida and Texas.

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