Itron’s MV-90 xi platform is a popular and vital meter management system among utility companies. MV-90 xi polls a large range of meter devices from different manufacturers to gather usage data and statistics. Various TIM modules are utilized to provide protocol support for range of various meters. When polling operations are completed, data is aggregated into a database where it can be used to generate reports, facilitate billing, and provide statistics for usage forecasting. It is critical that data be kept fresh, and so Metering teams are tasked with polling thousands of meters on a nightly basis.
A large number of metering devices have changed to TCP/IP based solutions but there is still a significant portion of deployed meters that communicate over traditional analog data modems. Replacement of these remaining analog meters is complicated by many factors including business agreements where the metering team does not actually own the meters, no internet availability at the remote meter site, and prohibitive costs to procure new meters and send technicians. Regardless, Metering Teams must continue polling these meters daily to generate billing data and forecasting metrics.
Polling these analog data modems requires specialized modem server equipment that connects to T1/E1 or analog POTS telephone connections. As modem deployments have waned in favor of IoT based deployments the manufacturers of these modem servers have decided to stop supporting their platforms and transition them to end-of-life, leaving their customers stranded with business-critical processes relying on decades old equipment that is end-of-life and for which replacement parts can no longer be purchased.
This is where VOCAL has stepped in with our SIP Analog Modem Server (SAMS) technology. SAMS provides a fully software-based solution for polling traditional analog data modems. Being fully software-based means SAMS does not rely on aging hardware that is ready to fail at any minute. SAMS can also be deployed in cloud based and virtual environments meaning bulky modem servers can be removed from data centers freeing up rack space and reducing operating costs.
Adding to the headaches that IT and Metering teams are facing with end-of-life modem hardware, telecom carriers are well on their way to removing support for traditional analog POTS and T1/E1 telephone connections. Incumbent carriers are refusing to install new circuits into data centers or offices and in some cases are forcing customers off of the circuits that they already have. Carriers are attempting to offer expensive gateway devices as an alternative to true circuits but these devices were not designed with modem traffic in mind and meter polling teams end up with unreliable connections resulting a failure to meet their daily polling requirements. SAMS is designed as a native Voice over IP (VoIP) application that is optimized to handle modem traffic. SAMS can connect directly to a VoIP carrier or it can connect to an existing VoIP/SIP based telecom infrastructure that many companies are already using. These connections are completely IP based which means that special telecom circuits are no longer required, enabling deployment in cloud environments such as AWS, Azure, or private corporate clouds.
VOCAL’s decades of expertise in both data modem design and VoIP development have been applied to SAMS to create a platform that can reliably bridge the gap between traditional voice band data communications and modern VoIP telecom networks, allowing IT and Utility Metering teams to continue delivering business critical data in a timely fashion.