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Maxim to Develop Next-Gen Powerline-Communication Technology

December 12, 2008

To fulfill the contract with Electricité Réseau Distribution France, Maxim will work with Sagem Communications to develop an open specification that facilitates the implementation of an automatic meter-management infrastructure.


SUNNYVALE, CA /Marketwire/ -- Maxim Integrated Products Inc. announced that it won a contract to define and develop a next-generation, powerline-communication (PLC) specification and solution for Electricité Réseau Distribution France (ERDF), a wholly owned subsidiary of the EDF (Electricité de France) Group. In partnership with Sagem Communications, Maxim will deliver an open PLC specification that facilitates the implementation of an automatic meter-management (AMM) infrastructure in France.

ERDF will deploy an AMM infrastructure throughout France to manage its complete electricity supply chain, from electricity suppliers to consumers. The infrastructure will enable two-way communication between meters, sensors, and switches, using existing power lines, thus giving ERDF enhanced monitoring and control capabilities. It will also provide end-customers with greater visibility into their electricity usage and encourage demand-side management of electricity supplies. This advanced functionality will enable ERDF to deliver a new level of customer-centric services and promote energy conservation.

The successful completion of the project is expected to result in the replacement of more than 35 million meters and concentrators in France. Moreover, the implementation will function as a lighthouse project, illuminating the way for other countries as they renew their electricity-network infrastructure to meet the European Commission's energy mandates.

The Challenge
In January 2008, the European Commission announced a set of "20/20/20 by 2020" targets, proposing a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, 20% increase in renewable energy, and 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020.

Because its existing electricity-network infrastructure is inadequate to meet these energy and sustainability imperatives, Europe has commenced one of the largest infrastructure renewals in its history. Indeed, the International Energy Agency estimates that the EU will invest over € 500 billion in infrastructure renewal by 2030.

Two-Way Communications
The deployment of an advanced communications infrastructure is a prerequisite to meeting the EU's 20/20/20 targets. Two-way communications will provide electricity-network operators with intelligent monitoring and control capabilities. Operators will be able to monitor electricity consumption throughout the grid in real time, implement variable tariff schedules, and set limits on electricity consumption to better manage peak loads.

In turn, consumers will have real-time visibility into their electricity consumption, thus promoting demand-side conservation. With the addition of variable tariff schedules, users will be encouraged to reduce electricity consumption during peak usage times.

Ultimately, intelligent network-management techniques provide a smarter solution for the environment. Rather than build more power plants to support worst-case scenarios (e.g., a week-long summer heat wave), network operators will be able to optimally use existing resources. At the same time, demand-side management will function as a form of indirect generation by better balancing the distribution of loads.

A Technology Platform for the Future
In the long term, this communications infrastructure will provide a basis for promoting distributed and renewable energy generation (e.g., wind and solar). To support the EU's SmartGrids initiative, the electricity network of the future will need to allow end-customers to harvest renewable energy and sell it back to the grid. Two-way communications represents the first stage of infrastructural development required for multiple players to exchange data and trade energy across Europe.

Maxim's PLC Technology
Maxim's PLC technology delivers cost-effective, two-way communication over power lines. Because it uses power lines, the technology allows network operators to implement highly reliable, secure communications, using existing infrastructure. It thus eliminates the need to deploy a separate communications infrastructure to supplement the electrical-network infrastructure.

Earlier this year, Maxim introduced the MAX2990, the "world's first orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing–based PLC modem, operating over the 10 kHz to 490 kHz frequency range. The modem uses advanced broadband networking techniques to achieve highly reliable and secure data communications, under adverse channel conditions, and over longer distances than traditional narrowband PLC modems. This development has gained the attention of some of the largest utility companies in the world. As a result, the technology will be used as the basis for Maxim's PLC specification.

The new PLC specification is being developed as an open standard. Maxim's open-standard approach and global support make it easy for hardware and service providers worldwide to seamlessly adapt and implement this next-generation technology platform.

About Maxim
Maxim Integrated Products Inc. is a publicly traded company that designs, manufactures, and sells high-performance semiconductor products. The company reported revenue in excess of $2 billion for fiscal 2008. Maxim was founded over 25 years ago, with the mission to deliver innovative analog and mixed-signal engineering solutions that add value to its customers' products. To date, it has developed over 5900 products, serving the industrial, communications, consumer, and computing markets.

About Sagem Communications
As a French high-technology company with international reach, Sagem Communications specializes in broadband communications and convergence in the following areas: printing terminals, digital TV set-top boxes, broadband and residential terminals, communicating energy-management solutions, and telecom systems and partnerships.

The company is in a leadership position in these sectors, thanks to its proven capacity for innovation. Sagem Communications aims to become a world leader in convergence and broadband terminals.

With a turnover of almost € 1.3 billion, Sagem Communications employs 6500 people on five continents and is headquartered in Paris.

About ERDF
Electricité Réseau Distribution France is a subsidiary of the EDF (Electricité de France) Group, managing the electricity distribution networks for 95% of metropolitan France. Courtesy of its more than 36,000 employees, the company ensures the operation, development, and maintenance of over 1,265,500 km of electricity lines to serve over 33 million customers.


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