The promise of connected smart meters has been discussed for years, and many utilities have used mobile reading solutions, but only a few are starting to look seriously at the implementation of fixed network connectivity, especially in North America and Europe. Wireless connectivity is more widely seen as a key enabler but the array of technology available is broad and different forms of metering have specific requirements that make them better-suited to particular wireless technologies.
This drive to digitalize water utilities’ distribution networks will result in an installed base of 400 million smart water meters worldwide by 2026, according to ABI Research. This illustrates the sheer scale of the global water metering footprint and sheds some light on the immense volume of data that water meters will collect and transmit. Management of these data will be complex and involve enormous data management and analytics capabilities.
Wirelessly connecting smart water meters is unlocking substantial efficiency gains for water providers across the globe and, as water supplies become more constrained in many locations, greater control of excessive use, limitation of leakage and potential mechanisms to charge more flexibly for water will be required. The commitment of water utilities and large connectivity partners to deploy millions of smart water meters for deployments, spread over several years from now, with lifespans of up to 20 years from now illustrates that connectivity choice is a long-term decision that requires water utilities and meter providers to carefully assess meter design in the light of the likely future business requirements and challenges.
It is of critical importance to select connectivity that can be controlled by the water utility for the long term – or at least to select a technology and provider that can demonstrate an understanding of the water industry and the ability to provide over-the-air upgrades to devices’ software and firmware during the lifespan of a meter.
LPWAN is being selected by water utilities because it combines extremely long-range – measured in miles – with deep underground and indoor penetration plus battery lifetimes of up to two decades. This field is becoming crowded with LPWAN options like narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), Sigfox and LoRaWAN.
For water metering applications, which have relatively low data payloads and seldom require low latency or high quality of service, it is clear that Sigfox and LoRaWAN offer the range, battery life, coverage capability, deployment ease and cost efficiency the water industry requires. There is much common ground between the technologies, but differences exist which should be considered carefully.
Another criterion for selection is the maturity of the technology and ecosystem to offer a greater choice of applications and number of devices.
Fundamentally, water utilities need a cost-effective, robust, reliable, perennial, secure, easy to install wireless technology to support their business’s digital transformation that they are sure will support it and their partners for the long-term. LPWAN solutions tick more of the water industry’s boxes more than cellular connectivity or RF proprietary technologies and have the benefit of positioning them with the connectivity they need for the future.
Read the full article on how to evaluate connectivity options for Smart Water Meters here.
Everynet has pioneered the concept of #BitsBillionsandCents: IoT digital transformation by connecting the most constrained devices at massive scale and for ultra-low cost. Everynet is leading the market with LoRaWAN™ innovation in both its commercial model and platform architecture to power shared infrastructure deployments, enabling a neutral host to build out high-quality infrastructure and leasing wholesale coverage to service providers. A model proven by Everynet’s flagship network: the highest utilized national LoRaWAN network in the world.
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Jonathan Pearce, Everynet, http://www.everynet.com, +44 (0) 7585123576