Alcatel-Lucent has announced a new smart metering solution targeted at the utility market. This solution will make it possible for utilities to provide consumers with detailed, near real-time information about their personal energy consumption, giving them the knowledge they need to use electricity more efficiently and reduce their energy costs and emissions (carbon footprint) into the environment. It is anticipated that this can help reduce the load on utility providers power networks and also will give them the ability to quickly react to changes in consumption to better match their resources with the power needed.

Smart metering is viewed by industry observers as a key technology that can help tackle some of the critical challenges in the energy sector, including capacity management, promoting more efficient use of energy and establishing better tariff models. In addressing this new market segment, Alcatel-Lucent will leverage its expertise in providing real-time tariff platforms for mobile operators, network integration and operating managed services. The issue came to the fore in 2006 when the European Union issued a directive that requested that wherever possible, energy metering should be installed in households to allow self regulation of energy consumption.

The Alcatel-Lucent solution is based on its years of experience in working with communications service providers around the world who handle and bill for millions of calls and data connections each day. As a part of the solution, Alcatel-Lucent is delivering a real-time data processing system based on its Open Service Platform (OSP), offering meter reading, meter management, infrastructure and data management. Alcatel-Lucent's OSP is widely deployed by hundreds of telecommunications operators. The solution is scalable and gathers call data on hundreds of millions of telephone calls. The smart metering release of the OSP adapts the system to the requirements of the utility providers, counting kilowatt hours or gallons per minute instead of call minutes.

Alcatel-Lucent designed a web interface that provides consumers with information on their total power consumption. It makes it possible for utilities to help their customers be more efficient in their energy use and to offer their customers discounts on energy consumption that takes place outside of peak usage hours, enabling consumers to reduce their monthly bills by taking simple steps such as doing laundry during the evening, when usage tends to decrease, or reducing air conditioner use during peak hours.

Besides data gathering and processing capabilities, the solution provides numerous features and interfaces. These interfaces make it possible to monitor millions of meters, sending data every hour. That data can be used for analysis, forecasting and to apply various rates. Operator interfaces enable network management functions, such as alarm handling, monitoring and configuration, as well as the provisioning of consumer data such as name, address, tariffs and meter identities. The solution can also provide consumption information to each consumer via a secure web site. Data for consumer billing is sent via an interface to the energy providers systems.

The solution enables utility providers and consumers to have a near real-time view of energy consumption. The solution is not limited to monitoring only electrical energy and can be adapted to intelligently monitor any electronic meter, including water and gas meters.