PORTLAND, OR -- One of the nation's first tests of automated utility meter reading over the public telephone network has begun in suburban Portland.
GTE, in cooperation with Schlumberger Company and Lucent Technologies, is trialing the automatic retrieving of electric meter readings over existing phone lines in an effort to bring new services
to its customers in the area and reduce operating costs.
If the trial is successful, the dispatching of meter readers on house-by-house inspections could become a thing of the past.
Starting with 100 to 200 residential and small business customers in the trial, GTE plans to expand the service over the next few years if the system works as anticipated.
Automated meter reading will allow electrical utilities to reduce operating costs, read meters more frequently and accurately, as well as immediately notify utilities in the event of a power outage. In addition, it also sets the stage for an array of new services which can be provided, including the continued automation of electronic devices in the home such as security systems and appliances which can be controlled remotely.
In the trial, GTE is providing the phone lines, Schlumberger the meter-reading equipment and central data collection computer, and Lucent Technologies provides the network switching system link over the 5ESS(R) switching system.
"We are please to be offering a highly efficient method for meter reading and service monitoring to utility companies," said Eileen O'Neill Odum, Regional President- GTE Northwest. "By using this new technology over the public switched network, utility companies now have an attractive alternative to both traditional meter reading methods and to the prospect of investing in new network assets."
David Smith, Intelligent Pathway service manager for Lucent, said "In fact, the phone system offers integration to the Internet and with deregulation, a utility customer may be anywhere. Using the Internet and phone lines to communicate with the customer is the future of communications."
By taking meter readings more frequently, utilities can establish a daily "demand profile" for the customer. This kind of information is critical as the electrical power industry prepares for deregulation, as well as allowing companies to evaluate new service offerings such as immediate billing verification or service outage detection.
Lucent Technologies (LU) designs, builds, and delivers a wide range of public and private networks, communications systems and software, consumer and business telephone systems and microelectronics components. Bell Laboratories is the research and development arm of the company. For more information about Lucent Technologies, headquartered at Murray Hill, N.J., visit the website at www.lucent.com.