News 3 March 2011
Although in its infancy, the future for smart metering looks assured. With EU regulations mandating the availability of smart meters in all homes within member states by 2020 for electricity, this is certain to be followed by other utilities such as gas and water, as part of a broader emergence of the ‘smart home’.
M2M technology forms a key part of the development of smart meters, in enabling the provision of robust and comprehensive real-time data and analysis regarding electricity usage. There are a number of key elements which a best practice M2M solution should include if it is to meet the demanding requirements of the utility customer and the regulator.
First, it should offer a truly global footprint as key to delivering the network coverage required. Second, it should include a global SIM, which enables national roaming in order to ensure seamless coverage across all networks, irrespective of individual coverage.
And finally, the SIM should be integrated as an industrial component – soldered into the meter or tracking box – rather inserted as a separate SIM card.
By embedding the SIM within the meter itself, this provides two essential benefits. First, this ensures that the life of a typical SIM is extended to cover the life of the meter: second, it enables the SIM to withstand the extreme temperature ranges to which the meter may be subjected in different geographies.
As a result, the meter can be installed anywhere and register automatically in the local network.
In summary, to deliver effective differentiation, providers of M2M solutions must combine a technically advanced yet robust technology offering with first class service support within a strongly price-competitive overall offering. This places tough demands on any supplier partnership, but the potential rewards in the future are immense – for the provider, the utility and the end user.