New York’s Consolidated Edison plans to connect more than 4 million electricity and gas customers to a smart grid deployed by Silver Spring Networks. The program is meant to support the state of New York in its effort to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. The initial phases of the smart grid program have been approved, but the full plan is awaiting additional action by the New York Public Service Commission.
Silver Spring Networks is an IoT solutions provider headed by Michael Bell, a former Apple executive who also led Intel’s IoT efforts before taking over as CEO of Silver Spring last fall. One of the first things Bell did was to open the company’s application programming interfaces, which use the the IEEE 802.15.4g wireless interoperability standard, called Wi-SUN (SUN stands for smart utility metering). Bell sees unlimited opportunity for smart city use cases leveraging Silver Spring’s technology.
“I can foresee everything, .. street lights, meters, parking spaces, bus kiosks — the signs, any kind of road signage,” he said. “Our technology [supports]higher power devices as well as battery powered devices.” Bell said that Silver Spring has already deployed more than 22 million IoT connections, with deployments in California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and Singapore.
“We’re probably one of the biggest IoT companies in the world in terms of devices that have actually shipped,” said Bell. “We’ve been servicing the Internet of critical things.”
Smart meters are Silver Spring’s biggest business, but the company is expanding into smart grid deployments like the one in New York. Smart grids use connected endpoints to monitor power use and use a network to distribute power based on the data collected from the endpoints. Silver Spring said the solution it will deploy in New York will offer speeds of up to 2.4 megabits per second, and will support dual-band mesh communications on both 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz frequencies.
“Our offering is faster than the people that have popped up recently, our offering is more secure than the people that have popped up recently, and the mesh architecture gives us a level of redundancy that the others don’t have,” said Bell. The ‘people that have popped up recently’ are Sigfox and LoRa, two low-power wide-area networking technologies designed for the Internet of Things.
Mobile operators are also eyeing IoT technology, and the 3GPP standards group is expected to release new standards for cellular IoT during the first half of this year. Bell said he sees cellular technology as more of a complement than a competitor to Silver Spring.
“We actually think we’re a great add-on for cellullar,” said Bell, adding that one Silver Spring node can aggregate traffic from up to 1,000 endpoints. “We aggregate all that traffic before it goes back through the cellular backbone, which actually is a very optimum use of that kind of routing, so we see ourselves as a perfect partner of many of the cell companies,” he said.