Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Huawei carries out smart meter test using NB-IoT

Steve Rogerson
November 23, 2016
 
The first electrical energy smart meter using 4.5G NB-IoT communication technology has been successfully tested, says Chinese electronics company Huawei.
 
This project will be demonstrated by the end of this year at the Parque das Nações in Lisbon as part of the Horizon 2020 Upgrid project. The official presentation of the smart meter was made at last week’s European Utility Week in Barcelona.
 
Huawei and Janz CE have designed and manufactured the meter, using modules from U-Blox, with EDP Distribuição and NOS. NOS deployed the entire 4.5G NB-loT network based on Huawei infrastructure that supports the project, making it the first operator in Portugal and one of the first in the world to use the standardised version of this technology.
 
This implements market focused smart grid services using the latest generation (4.5G) communications networks, answering Horizon 2020 programme challenges set by the European Union through the Upgrid project.
 
“Huawei, as an industry innovation leader, is a key contributor to the NB-IoT standards, sharing a strong belief that this technology will be the driver for a faster IoT mass adoption due to its unique advantages,” said Chris Lu, Huawei Portugal country director. “Huawei is also contributing for a quicker E2E ecosystem, by deploying several labs around the world to integrate NB-IoT technology in a variety of devices. Huawei is proud to participate in the first successful NB-IoT electricity smart meter demo with NOS, EDP, U-Blox and Janz CE, aiming at continuing to enhance the cooperation with local players for a mature NB-IoT ecosystem.”
 
According to António Papoila, CEO of Janz CE: “We are really pleased to have achieved with Huawei the development of the first electrical energy smart meter in the world using NB-IoT technology and demo it with EDP Distribuição and NOS. This is going to create value for utilities, such as electricity outage, by last gasp functionality. Our technological partnership is based on a mutual strategic and technical confidence that overcomes complexity, leverages intra-capabilities and shortens the time-to-value of smart metering applications.”
 
NB-IoT has emerged as a low-power wide area (LPWA) wireless access technology, standardised by the 3GPP, which offers advantages such as the support of more than 100,000 connections per cell, a battery life of up to ten years and a gain of 20dB over conventional GSM networks. Additionally, NB-IoT provides reliable and secure connectivity by the use of licensed spectrum and 4G ciphering.
 
NB-IoT technology thus has the potential to improve the automation of processes, reduce costs, increase security and provide a better service to final consumers by introducing services that add value.
 
“We are really proud of NOS’ involvement in this innovative project, which will make a real difference in making electricity consumption more efficient in Portuguese homes in the near future,” said Manuel Ramalho Eanes, board director of NOS. “Working with long term partners, such as Huawei, and with new companies with a vision of the future, is always a guarantee of success and will strengthen the competitive position of NOS.”
 
The Parque das Nações area in Lisbon was chosen by EDP Distribuição to pilot the project among 100 customers, beginning this year and continuing until the end of 2017. This area of the city is already served by two NOS base stations that provide 3GPP standardised NB-IoT coverage. Intelligent energy management in the homes of these customers will also play an active role in helping improve their energy cost efficiency, and is just the first example of the use of this technology.
 
“We are continuously looking, with supportive partners, for the solutions that can best serve our clients and this is another relevant step in our innovation path that is transforming the grid and improving our activity as facilitators of the electricity market,” said João Torres, CEO of EDP Distribuição.
 
Andreas Thiel, executive vice president at U-Blox, added: "U-Blox has been an early pioneer developing technical expertise and thought leadership in NB-IoT. Along with our partners, we are driving innovation in NB-IoT technology to serve the industry as a whole, and are fully supportive of technology based on global standards."
 
Huawei signed a NB-IoT smart gas cooperation agreement with companies, including Shenzhen Gas and China Telecom Shenzhen, to promote the NB-IoT application in smart gas. It is target to set up a benchmark for such NB-IoT-based applications in the gas industry.