The smart meter revolution continues. According to recent reports, in 2014 there were 67.9 million smart electricity meters in use in the EU28+2 area (a 24% penetration rate) and 50 million smart meters are up and running in the US (a 43% penetration rate).
Looking ahead, Europe and Asia Pacific both have aggressive plans to bring more smart meters to the homes of their citizens. There’s the UK’s Smart Metering Implementation Program will install 30 million smart meters. Other countries across Europe are embarking on nation-wide rollouts that will implement 199.7 million smart meter base units, representing 70% of Europe’s electricity customers.
In Asia Pacific, China’s smart meter project continues to install large numbers of meters as part of its five-year plan and Japan is planning major deployments that will account for about 80 million smart meters. India, too, is beginning to look at smart electric meters with a plan to begin a pilot program by 2020.
With all this activity, revenue opportunity over the next decade for the smart meter industry sits at about $57 billion. Yet, this next period of growth will also be one of scrutiny by both consumers and governments as they assess the true ROI of these connected devices.
To deliver on the advertised benefits of network connected, two-way communication smart meters – namely lower energy bills and increased grid efficiency – energy companies will require the help of both their mobile operators and service providers.
Here are three examples of the type of help needed:
• Tailored solutions: Develop a customized solution that implements and integrates smart meter devices and applications in a way that will scale machine-to-machine connections and ensure reliable data transmission.
• Security: One of the most talked about concerns of the smart meter, especially by consumers who are bringing these connected devices into their home, has been security and data privacy. Mobile operators have to ensure their networks remain secure at all points and support energy companies to develop and institute strict data-privacy processes.
• Device Management: The sheer volume of devices will grow significantly in short order. For consumers to achieve any type of benefit, the devices will have to remain in working order at all times. This will require devices be upgraded, updated and repaired over-the-air in real-time.
Of course, as the smart meter industry evolves and new and more advanced features are introduced, the needs of both energy companies and their consumers will continue to grow.