Posted on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 by Allan Nielsen

To IoT or not to IoT. Is that the question?

With so many communication options for utilities to choose between in the “big data” age it can be difficult to know which to go with.
With the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies having emerged as major contenders in the push towards the next generation of smart metering networks, the decision process for utilities has got a tad harder. 

IoT now sits alongside radio and mesh systems as a viable way for you to get the most value out of smart metering investments. 

So which will win out? An analogy can be made with the technology we’ve had in our living rooms over the last 30 years where we’ve witnessed a number of format wars where clear winners like VHS and DVD have emerged and, in some cases, disappeared again. 


However, when it comes to the next generation of smart metering communication technologies, it’s our view that there isn’t going to be a unanimous winner.

On the contrary. Instead, we see a world where there’s a combination of different infrastructures, including wireless radio and mesh systems along with IoT systems. Exactly how those technologies co-exist remains to be seen but we believe they’re able to complement each other, as they represent different opportunities depending on te use case.

One thing that is certain, the future for you and your fellow utilities is going to be wireless. And with all the unique, individual needs of so many different

One thing that is certain, the future for you and your fellow utilities is going to be wireless. But with all the unique, individual needs of so many different utilities, there will never be a one-fits-all smart metering solution in terms of communication technology.

utilities, there will never be a one-fits-all smart metering solution in terms of communication technology and what works well in Spain might turn out to be unsuitable in Sweden. 

Assessing needs before technology
The starting point always needs to be: what is it that you want your solution to do? When you put your needs first, and really analyse what you want to get out of your smart metering solution, the option that will suit you best will reveal itself. 

IoT mania has reached fever pitch and while it has plethora of benefits it poses some challenges that need to be assessed. 


Consideration should be given to requirements for battery lifetime, data transmission intervals, data granularity, network range and whether they will be the same in 10 years’ time? 

Consideration should be given to requirements for battery lifetime, data transmission intervals, data granularity, network range and whether they will be the same in 10 years’ time?

Thought also needs to be given to how utilities want to spend their resources: do they want full control over their network? Or would they prefer to leave the infrastructure responsibilities to an industry expert and instead dedicate themselves to their core business?

Even within IoT technology there a number of meter and infrastructure solutions that need to be put to the test to figure out which ones will work best for smart metering communication. It’s something we’ve dedicated a lot of time to at Kamstrup – exploring a number of different solutions. 

Smart meters with IoT technology present the potential for huge cost savings in capital expenditure for utilities as the network infrastructure is already rolled out. In exchange, the operational costs will be higher as the network provider handles the daily operation and maintenance, while the utility subscribes to using the network to read their meters.
 
In contrast, communication technologies dedicated to smart metering are designed specifically to match the meters as well as the utility’s needs for quality of service and analysis capabilities without compromising on battery lifetime. This level of control requires utilities to invest in, build and maintain their own infrastructure with the subsequent operational costs being lower.
 
So what it really boils down to is, what is your reality? That’s the question. 

If you want to learn more about communication technologies, click here.


Author