Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

GSMA wants mobile operators to attack smart energy market

Steve Rogerson
November 7, 2017



Mobile operators deploying new mobile IoT networks can benefit from the European connected energy market estimated to be worth US$26bn by 2026, according to the GSMA.
 
Data shared by analyst house Machina Research highlight the huge growth opportunity in the emerging connected energy market that could connect approximately 158 million new smart meters on LPWA networks across Europe. The total number of connections in Europe could be further increased if the 60 million cellular connections are also included with LPWA.
 
“The internet of things is fundamentally disrupting the smart utility market by providing ubiquitous connectivity and real-time, actionable data,” said Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer for the GSMA. “Mobile IoT networks will take this further by offering energy providers a cost-effective solution to connect millions of smart meters. There is a real sense of momentum behind the roll-out of mobile IoT networks with multiple global launches, however, there is still a huge runway for growth. We encourage operators to act now to capitalise on this clear market opportunity and further accelerate the development of the IoT.”
 
The current connected energy market, which includes applications related to the generation and transportation of energy, microgeneration, smart grid and distribution monitoring and smart metering, is worth an estimated US$11.7bn. The European connected energy market represents approximately a fifth of all global revenues, with APAC claiming 54 per cent and the Americas 21 per cent.
 
The European Commission recently published a proposal indicating that approximately 200 million electricity smart meters and 45 million gas meters would be rolled out by 2020. The commission also estimates that by 2020 approximately 72 per cent of Europeans customers will have a smart meter for electricity and about 40 per cent for gas.
 
“In the coming years we will see an important change in the way natural gas networks operate,” said Gianfranco De Feo, executive director of gas equipment company Shanghai Fiorentini. “The need for more efficient operations, improved safety and better quality of service will be paramount and we can do this through the roll-out of smart gas metering systems.”
 
He said the world was moving towards the digitalisation of gas networks, a transformation from pipe-centric systems to data-centric systems.
 
“To make this happen, reliable communication means are a must and the arrival of NB-IoT and LTE-M represents an acceleration of this evolution,” he said. “These new technologies offer everything necessary, such as long battery life, penetration and data security, as well as licensed spectrum.”
 
Mobile IoT networks are designed to support mass-market IoT applications across a wide variety of use cases including connected energy such as water and gas metering, smart grids, electricity and energy monitoring. They support IoT applications that are low-cost, use low data rates, require long battery lives and often operate in remote and hard to reach locations making them suitable for the connected energy sector.
 
Mobile networks are already supporting the smart electric metering market, but now other sectors such as water and gas metering are turning their attention to the benefits of adopting NB-IoT and LTE-M networks due to low power and better ground penetration.
 
In Europe, Deutsche Telekom has already deployed NB-IoT networks for smart metering and smart lighting in several locations in the Netherlands, including Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Vodafone is also working on a number of initiatives including a water metering project in Valencia using NB-IoT. Globally, AT&T is working with Capstone Metering in the USA to monitor water usage using LTE-M. In Asia Pacific, the largest global market for smart metering applications, China Mobile is piloting NB-IoT for water quality monitoring across several locations, while China Unicom is using NB-IoT to collect readings from energy and water meters and is working with an energy company SoftGrid on a smart cities project.
 
There are currently 21 commercial mobile IoT networks available around the world from 14 operators, including AT&T, Telstra and Verizon (LTE-M), as well as Three Hong Kong, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KT, LG Uplus, M1 and Vodafone (NB-IoT). Etisalat and Turkcell have launched both NB-IoT and LTE-M.
 
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors.