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GE-NRG Energy-ConocoPhillips venture invests in wireless infrastructure internet


July 10, 2012
By Anthony Capkun

July 10, 2012 – Energy Technology Ventures (a GE-NRG Energy-ConocoPhillips venture) has invested in San Diego, Calif.-based On-Ramp Wireless, a developer of wireless networks for energy automation to further commercialize the latter’s Ultra-Link Processing (ULP) smart grid and digital oil field solutions.

The partners say ULP’s “total reach, the ability to cost-effectively connect billions of hard-to-reach devices deployed in dense urban settings, located below ground, and in remote environments, is an industry first”.

On-Ramp was also awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a wireless network to monitor underground circuits to improve grid reliability, and has deployed the projects with both San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison. The ULP network enables secure and reliable transmission of data with minimal infrastructure, says Energy Technology Ventures, “significantly reducing initial capital costs and reducing overall total cost of ownership by greater than two-times over existing technologies”.

“With its ULP technology, On-Ramp Wireless can support numerous applications that were previously cost-prohibitive to integrate with communications technology. This enables a new class of wireless automation software services for the energy industry,” said Kevin Skillern, GE Energy Financial Services’ managing director of venture capital and representative of Energy Technology Ventures.

Joaquin Silva, president and CEO of On-Ramp, said, “Energy Technology Ventures’ investment will not only assist in the continued development and implementation of our patented wireless technology, but it also recognizes the critical contribution these technologies can provide to transform utility and oil and gas operations”.

On-Ramp Wireless has developed a wireless system purpose-built to connect hard-to-reach devices in metro scale and other challenging environments. Its ULP system enables low-power monitoring and control applications for smart grid, pipeline integrity, water efficiency, industrial sensing and location tracking. Operating in un-licensed spectrum, the signal processing innovation “finds weak signals even in high-noise environments, yielding extreme coverage, immunity to high interference and significantly lowers cost”.