There's been plenty of hype about the Smart Grid --- some justified and some not. But the gold award for Smart Grid hype has to go to Cisco, whose spokesperson last month said that the grid could end up being up to 1,000 times the size of the Internet.
 
Martin LaMonica of CNet wrote last month that Cisco believes that just the communications portion of the Smart Grid represents a $100 billion opportunity --- "$20 billion a year over the next five years."

That's certainly reasonable and believable. LaMonica interviewed Marie Hattar, vice president of marketing in Cisco's Network Systems Solutions group, who then seemed to ratchet up the hype at least a notch.

Hattar noted that Cisco already had a variety of products designed for the Smart Grid, such as various pieces of data center equipment. It also has released EnergyWise software, which will be used to manage energy use throughout an enterprise.

Hattar added that Cisco is also developing new products designed for home use, not just use in enterprises, such as home energy controller devices for its Linksys router line, or set-top boxes that can track energy use throughout the home.

Home use of the Smart Grid represents and enormous opportunity for Cisco and other companies, who may develop devices that attach to home appliances to connect to the Smart Grid. Hatar noted:
"Our expectation is that this network will be 100 or 1,000 times larger than the Internet. If you think about it, some homes have Internet access, but some don't. Everyone has electricity access--all of those homes could potentially be connected."
Clearly, the Smart Grid will not dwarf the Internet in that way. I can't blame her for her enthusiasm about the technology -- I share it as well. But 1,000 times larger than the Internet? Don't expect that to happen.

Photos CC-licensed by Flickr user lrargerich and SXC user jelle80nl.