On Tuesday, Elster (Raleigh, N.C., U.S.A.), a manufacturer of advanced meter infrastructure, announced that its integrated universal meter and radio platform, the REXUniversal meter, is expected to be commercially available in North America in the second quarter of 2012. Elster's REXUniversal meter platform allows smart grid vendors' 900MHz radio frequency (RF) mesh communications to run natively on the identical REXUniversal meter hardware with integrated communications, economically delivering meter and network flexibility to utilities, according to Elster.
The meter platform is capable of operating in various 900 MHz RF mesh Smart Grid systems without the cost penalty and additional hardware risk associated with specialized radio communication option boards, says the company. Previously, if a utility wanted to operate one vendor's communications on another vendor's meter, they had to have a separate proprietary communications card physically installed in the meter.
By integrating interoperability into a single card containing both metrology and communications, Elster's REXUniversal meter is designed to simplify updates to local area network (LAN) communication functionality and enable operational efficiencies by eliminating the need to remove meters and physically change-out the communications board to accomplish a system-wide network change, according to Elster.
On the Elster REXUniversal metering platform, communication protocols may be changed remotely to alter the device's personality, allowing the device to operate natively in different network systems without requiring hardware replacement. According to Elster, with the ability to migrate endpoints to different communication systems, utilities are no longer locked in to just one network for their Smart Grid technology and system needs.
The Elster REXUniversal meter platform features a radio and communications processor, capable of supporting the future IEEE 802.15.4g standard and IPv6 protocols, according to Elster. This technology design supports multiple vendor protocols, provides utilities with flexibility to change or upgrade network systems, and offers security by embedding memory directly on the chip, says the company.
Elster's REXUniversal meter design also supports additional communication modules, including but not limited to, cellular or Ethernet wide area network (WAN) interface cards, and options for local connectivity to in-home devices and gas and water meters.