Service gateway brings rural Wash. customers closer to "home of the future"


IntraCoastal System Engineering Corp., a provider of power line communication solutions, announced that Washington State’s Mason County Public Utility District 3 (PUD3) has selected IntraCoastal’s Utility Access Device. The Utility Access Device is a service gateway that will allow the utility district in rural Washington to communicate with all meters within its service area, the first step in enabling these homes with a broadband Internet connection to the outside world.

The field trials, which began in January, are the first step in a partnership between IntraCoastal and National Semiconductor. IntraCoastal’s Utility Access Device, a primary component of IntraCoastal’s utility automation solution, is a small, fanless unit powered by National’s Geode microprocessor technology. Each device, installed pole-top, will link two to three homes to the utility, bringing many benefits to both the utility and its customers.

For the utility, the primary benefits are automatic meter reading and demand-side management capabilities, two critical features that utilities are currently looking for to remotely administer and manage consumer’s energy consumption. For the consumer, the benefits include a high speed, always-on Internet connection enabling advanced capabilities such as home automation and connection with information appliances and smart devices.

“IntraCoastal’s Utility Automation Solution is exactly what Mason County has been looking for,” said Jeff Skinner, Telecommunications Engineer for Mason County PUD3. “IntraCoastal’s solution meets our current automatic meter reading requirements and allows for future growth, while still maintaining a reasonable cost per point.” In addition to utility purposes, PUD3’s fiber backbone will be made available to third parties looking to offer voice, video and data services to the residents of Mason County.

National Semiconductor’s Geode microprocessor is designed to enable service gateways to perform as intelligent connections for the home. In addition to utility-oriented services, these gateways will also enable services such as firewalls, parental control and entertainment delivery.

Washington State’s Mason County PUD3 is one of 14 rural non-profit, locally owned utilities in Washington state that form the Northwest Open Access Network Consortium (NoaNet). The members of NoaNet consortium have licensed Bonneville Power Administration’s fiber optic backbone and plan to lay fiber directly to more than 5 million end-users. The fiber fulfills one of NoaNet’s primary goals, ensuring that residences of rural America are not left behind in technological advancements.

“Access to the home is a major stumbling block for utilities that require automatic meter reading and demand side management capabilities,” said Hafez Panju, Vice President for Systems and Production at IntraCoastal. “Our Utility Access Device addresses this issue. As we roll out our solution, appliance and consumer electronic manufacturers will be given a reason to produce smart devices using our technology.”

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