New AMR endpoint frees water utilities to operate systems without FCC license

Itron Inc. today unveiled a new product, the 50W-1 water ERT module, which the company says offers unrivaled flexibility and ease of use to water utilities and municipalities considering deployment of automatic meter reading (AMR) technology.

SPOKANE, Wash., June 15, 2001 -- Itron Inc. today unveiled a new product, the 50W-1 water ERT module, which the company says offers unrivaled flexibility and ease of use to water utilities and municipalities considering deployment of automatic meter reading (AMR) technology.

The announcement was made in connection with the American Water Works Association annual conference, which begins Sunday in Washington D.C., and brings together water utility representatives and technology providers.

Extending Itron's industry lead in providing open-architecture AMR solutions, the 50W-1 ERT module is compatible with registers of all leading water meter manufacturers and represents a significant improvement in flexibility for water utilities.

The 50W-1 is a dual mode device that is connected directly to pit-set water meters and has the ability to operate in either a ``wake-up'' or a ``bubble-up'' mode. In wake-up mode, the device operates just like Itron's 40W-1 water ERT, waiting for a wake-up signal from a handheld, vehicle-based, or network reading system. The module then transmits the data, via radio, back to the collection system.

When operating in bubble-up mode, the 50W-1 module needs no wake-up signal, and therefore requires no FCC license to operate. Instead, it sends a continuous stream of data that can be received by a meter reader walking or driving down the street, or via Itron's fixed-based MicroNetwork.

``Itron listened to the needs of water utilities seeking a proven wireless AMR solution that does not require an FCC license to operate. This device meets that requirement,'' said John Hengesh, vice president and general manager of Itron's Water and Public Power business unit. ``The 50W-1 module will enable water utilities to achieve cost reductions, increase operational efficiency, and improve customer service, just as they would with our other water ERTs. We will continue to look for ways to meet our utility customers' needs while making our products easier to use.''

The 50W-1 water ERT was successfully and thoroughly tested at public water utilities in Houston, Texas, and Richmond, Virginia. The device is designed to provide consistently accurate meter readings from a harsh pit-set environment. It is equipped with two long-life replaceable ``A'' cell lithium batteries. In bubble-up mode, battery life is approximately 10 years. In wake-up mode, it's closer to 20 years, which equals the life expectancy of the ERT, making battery changeout programs unnecessary.

``The 50W-1 is built to Itron's usual high standards for pit-set water ERTs. It's tough, dependable, and long lasting,'' said Hengesh.

Itron Inc. is a technology provider and source of knowledge to the energy and water industry for collecting, analyzing, and applying critical data about electric, gas, and water usage.

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