February 22, 1996


PITTSBURGH, PA -- Columbia Gas and Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile have combined some of their industries' latest technologies to help keep western Pennsylvania residents safe, warm and comfortable during the harsh winter months when temperatures dip and energy demand peaks.

The two companies are working together to meet the challenge presented by a monitoring system that must be maintained 24 hours a day to ensure correct pipeline pressure and proper natural gas flow rates.

Columbia Gas is one of the first utility companies to use Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile's latest wireless data technology, Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD), to transmit information from measuring points throughout its system to its local submaster computer in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, and then on to its main monitoring center in Columbus, Ohio. Should an adjustment be needed, operators can immediately return a control command over the same wireless system.

The Columbia Gas Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system combined with the advanced technology of Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile's CDPD service, called AirBridge(sm) Packet, provides a monitoring system that is more efficient and more effective than ever before while maintaining the critical high level of reliability.

Columbia's SCADA system in Columbus polls information from Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) throughout western Pennsylvania. Each RTU is a microprocessor-based, stand-alone computer which monitors a number of gas flow points, updates and collects real-time data at a measurement and regulation station.

From cost and technology stand points, however, the mountainous topography of western Pennsylvania challenged the traditional method of information transmission over a radio system. With Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile's CDPD network already in place, Columbia Gas could avoid additional construction and maintenance costs. CDPD is a technology that efficiently transmits short bursts or "packets" of data over the cellular infrastructure.

"CDPD is a cost-effective solution for us," said Angel Rivera, general office engineer for Columbia Gas. "Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile's role in getting this project off the ground was critical. They were there in the beginning to assist us in resolving problems and continued their strong support throughout the endeavor."

The benefits for this particular application include:

  • The system can be programmed to report only changes at a station, thus reducing the amount of data to one third of what was previously transmitted, making it more cost efficient;

  • Columbia Gas has the ability to poll more frequently during heating season when it is more critical and reduce the number of times during summer months when natural gas consumption is lower;

  • With CDPD, Columbia Gas can do its own diagnostics for transmission problems rather than rely on an outside source for tracking problems on a leased line;

  • By using the existing CDPD network, Columbia Gas is relieved of the costly burden of building and supporting a private radio infrastructure.

Columbia Gas tested their system with CDPD on a trial basis last summer and expanded the technology to 12 sites for this winter, with the expectation of more sites being added when the current heating season ends.

Gary J. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, believes strongly in working with other businesses in sharing technology and expertise -- all to benefit the customer.

"Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile is the wireless expert -- we're the utility," Robinson said. "Our linkage to each other brings us closer to the customer."

"This wireless data application demonstrates how Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile works with a company to design a system that addresses a specific business need," explained Jerry Fountain, regional vice president for Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile in Pittsburgh. "CDPD can be used any time information needs to be sent from a remote location."

Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, with corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, is the largest investor-owned natural gas utility in the state with more than 370,000 customers in 455 communities in 27 counties.

Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile is the largest wireless service provider on the East Coast and the second largest provider in the United States. The company offers a full range of wireless voice, data, and paging communications solutions to its three million customers in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and through a separate subsidiary, in the southwest. The company was formed in July, 1995 through the combination of Bell Atlantic Mobile's and NYNEX Mobile's cellular operations. The new company has more than 5,000 employees.


for more information, contact:

    Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile:
    Patricia L. Quolke, (412) 563-0367 or
    Maggie Aloia Rohr, (908) 306-7757

    Columbia Gas:
    James Vitak, (614) 460-4601 or
    Rosemary Martinelli, (412) 344-9800

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