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Goodbye Meter Reader
By Bruce Mushial

     Electric and water utilities are benefiting from new technology in many ways. If you're one of these utilities one of the areas of overhead you'd love to be without is the expense of finding out how much of your product your customers have used during a billing period. For decades electric, water, and gas utilities have delegated this process to the meter reader. This lucky person got to walk from neighborhood to neighborhood fighting off dogs and stomping on your favorite flowers gathering the readings from your utility meters. People who are meter readers require benefits, vacation, overtime, and workman's compensation. They call in sick which throws of the collection of data that you need to generate data, they get hurt on the job, and can get you sued if they say the wrong things or peek in the wrong places. Now utilities are benefiting from a new technology: the wireless data transmitter. A logical outgrowth of wireless phones and the technology that makes them work, most of these new units attach to your existing meter with just a couple of screws and transmits how much product you used during the billing period. Your low power transmitter sends the information to a neighborhood receiver or mobile radio truck, which then uses cellular technology to send the data to the utilities billing center. This all may seem novel but a light bulb should go on in an investor's head when they read about this shift in technology. There are tens of millions of American households that still need to have this technology installed. Privately held and publicly traded companies providing this technology includes NexusData, DCSI, Hexagram, Hunt Technologies and Innovatec. The oldest companies in the field are American Meter, Itron, and Schlumberger. Watch out, your house might be the next to get this innovative technology, or another new technology.


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