Cisco Systems announced its plan to assist with Miami's massive smart-grid project weeks ago, but the Internet networking company officially stated its intentions to dominate the smart grid yesterday.
Broadly speaking, Cisco wants to provide an "end-to-end highly secure network communications infrastructure to help utilities and customers manage supply and demand," according to Marie Hattar, Vice President of Network Systems and Security Solutions at Cisco. In layman's terms, Cisco plans on using its networking technology to change the fabric of smart-grid communications, such as power transmission distribution automation, smart-grid security, neighborhood area networks, and home and business energy management. Cisco estimates that smart-grid communications will be a $20 billion market annually over the next five years.
The Internet-oriented company unsurprisingly believes that smart-grid communications should use IP (Internet Protocol) networks. Not every utility currently use IP networks, but Hattar believes that IP networks maintained by Cisco could prevent hackers from taking over the smart grid. "We'll cover things like firewalls and and rights authorization. We're working with utilities to provide a security and architectural framework," Hattar said.
It's a huge business opportunity for Cisco, which is the leading provider of routers and switches for the Internet. Some people don't have Internet access, but almost everyone uses electricity. Once smart meters become standard, Cisco could theoretically expand its reach into nearly every electrically wired building on the planet.
Other tech giants to enter the smart-grid industry recently include IBM, Intel, and Verizon.
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