Cisco Australia targets energy utilities

Cisco's Australian division yesterday said Australia's utility sector could deliver it significant new business as electricity giants adapted to demand to feed power back into their grids.

Cisco's Australian division yesterday said Australia's utility sector could deliver it significant new business as electricity giants adapted to demand to feed power back into their grids.

"The utilities sector ... is the next bastion of analog networking that is transforming," said Cisco's Australia and New Zealand vice president Les Williamson at the company's annual Networkers conference in Brisbane yesterday.

Australia's power grid needed to go two ways, to accommodate consumers' ability to generate their own electricity and input it back into the grid, he said. At the moment it only delivered electricity to premises when things were turned on. Making the change to a dual-direction transfer would require a significant transformation.

"There are utilities in NSW that are looking at how a hybrid car generates 4.5 kilowatts that they want to plug in at convenient public stations around the country so as to input back into the grid," Williamson said. "Now how does a utility buy that, at what price, how do they negotiate it, how do they make it easy for your average mum and dad and car owner to do? This is the evolution of that industry."

Cisco had its eyes firmly on the industry globally, the executive said, with utility transformation being one of the company's top 20 projects worldwide. "It's a fantastic market opportunity," he concluded.

The utilities sector ... is the next bastion of analog networking that is transforming

Cisco's Les Williamson

In contrast, Australia's booming resources sector wasn't proving a boon to Cisco's fortunes. "We couldn't put our hand on our heart and say that ICT is fuelling the current resources boom," Williamson said.

"Now are we getting benefits from that? Of course. But that's because there's extra cash in the coffers and all partners get benefits from that," he continued.

The executive said there were customers in the resources sector which Cisco had sold services and hardware to, but he couldn't say it was an industry that the company was transforming, and until that was the case, it wouldn't be a key focus area.

In general Cisco is making hay while the sun shines in the Australian market. According to its latest financial documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, its Australian office pulled in $964 million for the year to 28 July 2007, up 22.2 per cent from 2006.

Suzanne Tindal travelled to Brisbane as a guest of Cisco Systems.

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