SOURCE: Chipcon/Figure 8 Wireless

June 15, 2005 08:00 ET

Amron Technologies, Chipcon AS and Figure 8 Wireless Announce Amron's M5 Automated Meter Reading Platform Based on ZigBee™-Compliant Wireless Platform

Amron Solution Powered by the Chipcon CC2420/Figure 8 Wireless ZigBee-Compliant Platform Is the First OEM Product Announced in North America

HARTSVILLE, SC and SAN DIEGO, CA and OLSO, NORWAY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 15, 2005 -- Amron Technologies, Inc., Chipcon AS and Figure 8 Wireless announced today the release of Amron's M5™ advanced metering platform suitable for incorporation into both polyphase and single phase electric meters and powered by the Chipcon CC2420 802.15.4 RF semiconductor and Figure 8 Wireless Z-Stack ZigBee-compliant wireless device networking stack. Operating in real "real-time," the M5 platform utilizes the mesh networking capabilities of ZigBee to permit wide areas containing up to over 2,000 meters, served by a single IP point of presence for cost effective, "always on" AMR solutions.

A new global standard for wireless connectivity, ZigBee enables interoperability of products for a wide range of applications in addition to advanced metering, including home control, building automation and industrial control. It is built on the radio (PHY) and medium access control (MAC) communication layers defined by the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. As the first ad-hoc, multi-hop, wireless mesh network standard, ZigBee enables nodes to be added or removed without causing network interruptions. Additionally, messages can move from one node to another via several different network paths, extending the network's range by up to three miles.

Mark Leach, chief technology officer of Amron, said, "In order to maximize a utility's communications options within its advanced metering infrastructure, flexibility has always been a top priority for our development team. That's why we decided to accelerate our ZigBee plans and chose the 2.4GHz frequency band which provides for the largest number of selectable channels and provides worldwide operability. Each M5 platform network based on the ZigBee-compliant network platform operates autonomously, supports up to 2,048 client meters, and transfers data to our meter management software housed in a secure data center. This represents a significant competitive advantage over less scalable solutions."

In developing the M5 platform, Amron worked closely with Chipcon AS, the leading provider of low-power, low-data rate RF-ICs, and its sister company Figure 8 Wireless, the leading provider of ZigBee software and firmware. Indicating its market leadership, Chipcon was recently awarded the Frost & Sullivan's 2005 Technology Leadership Award for its leadership in Wireless Sensor Network technology.

Mr. Leach added, "Once arriving at a decision to move forward with ZigBee and the combined Chipcon/Figure 8 solution, we immediately enrolled in Figure 8's training offering and upgraded our Chipcon development kit through their ADP bundle program. We trained in January and released the product in April -- a less than four month time to market for a utility billing class product."

"We congratulate Amron in becoming the first product released in North America based on our ZigBee-compliant solution. ZigBee is the ideal solution to the AMR market as the mesh network capabilities do away with most distance constraints and permit very large numbers of meters to be managed from a single IP point of presence. As a result, ZigBee offers a very low overall cost of ownership for the utility," added John Morris, Vice President of Marketing for Figure 8 Wireless.

In addition to savings in hardware modem costs, Amron's M5 platform also saves on communications fees because it requires only a single WAN carrier account. And because Amron's hardware is meter-agnostic, the M5 platform is fully interoperable, allowing for streamlined communications between various meter types from different meter manufacturers.

The M5 platform is designed for easy installation and operation. When installed, an M5 platform client meter will automatically connect to an M5 platform host meter that offers the best connectivity. After the host meter recognizes a new node has joined the network, it notifies and updates the meter management software which then remotely activates the new meter.

Notes Mark Leach, "With low power requirements, robust scalability, and broad, standards-based functionality, our M5 platform further increases the overall M5 platform value proposition."

About Amron

Amron Technologies, Inc. delivers advanced metering technologies and services to utilities and their commercial and industrial customers. Amron's M5™ advanced metering platform incorporates a complete, fully integrated system using underglass hardware, Web-based software, flexible communications systems, a secure data center, advanced metering portal, and sophisticated management reporting. Amron's M5 platform turns meter data at key demand points into actionable information for load control, real-time billing and other crucial decisions. M5 platform customers gain energy-use diagnostics in real "real-time" to spot problems and improve operations.

For more information, call 1-888-99Amron or visit

About Figure 8 Wireless, Inc.

Figure 8 Wireless, a member of the ZigBee Alliance, is leading the way in wireless device connectivity and networking based on the ZigBee/802.15.4 standards. Figure 8's Z-Stack and Z-Tools embedded software and development tools are in the hands of OEM device manufacturers on four continents. Figure 8 Wireless is sister company to Chipcon AS as a member of the Chipcon Group of Oslo, Norway. For more information, visit Figure 8's Web site at, e-mail at or call the company directly at (858) 552-8500 x9.

About Chipcon AS

Chipcon is a leading provider of proprietary and standards-based CMOS RF-ICs for wireless connectivity. Chipcon's RF-ICs provide low-cost, low-power and high-performance RF solutions for a large number of wireless applications. Chipcon's single-chip high-performance RF transceivers and transmitters target low-power wireless applications in the 300 to 1000 MHz and 2.4 GHz frequency bands and are distributed worldwide. For more information, visit Chipcon's Web site at, e-mail at or call the company directly at +47 22 95 85 44.

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