Verizon Wireless and Itron Inc. have announced a joint marketing agreement for the development of secure, two-way communications that support utilities' access to energy usage data and advance their smart grid projects. Operating on Verizon Wireless' network, the Itron OpenWay Cell Relay now allows utilities to more quickly collect, measure and manage energy data, while providing a reliable and affordable supply of power without having to build and operate proprietary communications networks.

A primary component of Itron's advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solution, OpenWay by Itron, the OpenWay Cell Relay is the router for the Itron radio frequency local-area network (RFLAN). The relay, which has passed the Verizon Wireless open development compliance process, solidifies integration between the OpenWay RFLAN and the wide-area network (WAN) provided by Verizon Wireless' nationwide, high-speed CDMA (1x EV-DO and 1xRTT) wireless data network. The Verizon Wireless network is now available as a WAN backhaul connection option in the OpenWay architecture. Ultimately, this provides a secure approach to data collection and communications with the meter or other smart grid devices.

The OpenWay Cell Relay is available either incorporated within the OpenWay CENTRON meter or in pole-mounted, ruggedized housing. The OpenWay architecture delivers operational efficiency, empowers all customers to participate in energy management and conservation, and serves as a cornerstone in connecting utilities to the smart grid.

The communications architecture of OpenWay is fully compliant with the American National Standards Institute C12.22 protocol for transport of device data over a network and remains independent of any particular communications technology. This means multiple transport technologies, including mobile networks, can be seamlessly integrated into a single architecture to deliver the best combination of reliability and cost effectiveness.