The recent announcement by the UK Government that by 2020 every consumer and business in the UK will have a smart meter installed will ensure an accurate reading is always recorded, saving energy customers billions of pounds as well as enabling other services. The consumer can have remote control of their energy systems when they are away from home and businesses can monitor and control their establishments remotely.
Set to roll out over the next five years, this initiative will revolutionise energy metering. However, with the deadline looming, Rami Avidan, CEO of Wyless, the global network enabler, is concerned that energy providers may not be able to undertake this task as easily as expected.
Installing smart meters across the UK requires the providers to have a strong machine to machine (M2M) communications network, stated Avidan. They will need to guarantee a robust and reliable connection with nationwide coverage, which will mean using multiple mobile operators in across the UK. They will also need to ensure that they employ the necessary expertise to keep connections secure, such as deploying a fixed IP address per device, he said.
The energy providers will also require SIM cards to be configured in every device in every home or business, which can connect to the central server and transmit the data. Supplying, configuring, and deploying these SIMs is a time consuming and cost intensive process, claimed Avidan.
In these tough times, cost is an important factor, as high costs for the provider can result in higher costs for the consumer. The total cost of ownership for designing, implementing and maintaining a wireless M2M network can be huge, stated Avidan. From the costs of SIM production and network infrastructure maintenance, to wireless roaming rates and staffing costs for engineers, the expenses can become as difficult to manage as the network itself, he said.
Avidan concluded: “This process need not be so difficult for the energy companies. Partnering with a network provider would mean outsourcing these elements to a company that specialises in M2M connectivity. Benefits include a reduced total cost of ownership, 24/7 technical support, online network management, a single connection covering all mobile operators and pre-enabled devices that reduce the complexity of deployment and increase time to market.”
“With expert M2M capabilities, energy companies will be well on their way to meeting the government’s deadline, and one step closer to a greener Britain.”