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In the competitive electricity structure, the data exchange between supplier and customers becomes more important for efficient and secure operation of power systems. Automated meter reading (AMR) technology has played a role in helping utilities overcome their meter-reading challenges. However, it is not enough in today's environment. Utilities need an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) to gather and utilize metered data in more intelligent and cost-effective manner. In this paper, a flexible and cost-effective AMI system is proposed. The AMI system adopts multicommunication media, such as Global System for Mobile Communications and General Package Radio Service. The AMI system not only reduces the labor cost and increases meter-reading accuracy but also provides accurate load-profile information and billing data to help customers manage their power consumption. The distributed structure of the AMI system makes it easy to be adopted in different sizes of utility systems. The effectiveness of the proposed system has been demonstrated in several utilities in Shandong Province, China.