Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

China metering companies embrace LoRa communications

Steve Rogerson
June 14, 2016
 
Metering companies in China are adopting LoRa RF wireless technology to scale metering deployments domestically and internationally. According to Semtech, these companies in China were some of the early adopters of LoRa technology, and most of the major suppliers in the region design and ship LoRa-equipped meters to companies around the world.
 
LoRa technology allows utility companies to receive information over much longer distances than traditional methods with an optimised current consumption both with the physical communications layer and the LoRaWan specification. In water and gas metering, this translates into a much lower deployment cost and lower end-node cost due to reduction in battery sizes. In electric metering, it can connect nodes that are not reachable by mesh or PLC, or control and communicate in the case of outages.
 
Many metering companies are looking to combine LoRa, PLC and mesh technologies to provide redundant and optimised hybrid systems for electricity meters to compensate for hard to reach nodes. LoRaWan gives metering companies comprehensive coverage that is resilient to outages and reaches remote locales.
 
“The overwhelming integration of LoRa technology into automatic metering reading systems in China is very exciting,” said Mike Wong, vice president for Semtech. “The technology, when paired with the standardised LoRaWan specification and PLC infrastructure, gives a way to develop metering processes that are scalable, affordable and reliable.”
 
Semtech recently announced the EV6800 dual modem PLC plus RF system-on-chip featuring LoRa wireless RF technology, claimed to be the first fully integrated PLC and LoRa modem for smart grid, smart metering and IoT applications. It is said to enable virtually 100 per cent connectivity coverage with a single chip.
 
“The development of smart meters in China has boomed in recent years and continues to grow with just under 90 million communicating meters shipped in 2015,” said Jacob Pereira, lead smart utility infrastructure analyst for IHS. “It is the largest market in the world by volume and shows continued strength as smart technologies become increasingly popular.”