Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Verizon offers utilities smart energy as a service

Steve Rogerson
August 11, 2015
Verizon has launched an IoT platform that provides electric, water and gas utility firms in the USA with a fully integrated grid modernisation service. The capabilities supported include smart metering, demand response, meter data management and distribution monitoring and control.
These services are delivered as a cloud service on New York-based Verizon’s secure wireless network, enabling utility firms to reduce operating costs and improve customer service without having to switch out their entire existing meter population and core infrastructure at once.
Called Grid Wide, the smart energy as a service aims to transform the delivery and consumption of energy nationwide for investor-owned, cooperative and municipal utilities and their customers. There are 147 million electric meters and 330 million gas and water meters in service in the USA.
Grid Wide comes equipped with smart meter hardware, network connectivity and a wide-range of cloud-based applications designed to help utilities drive incremental revenue, reduce operating costs, increase efficiency and improve customer experience – in a way that was previously unavailable in the energy industry.
“Historically, utility companies have constructed costly communications networks and installed premise-based servers designed to last for at least a decade,” said Jay Olearain, director of business development for energy and utilities at Verizon. “The industry has since realised that the coverage, reliability and security of public wireless networks have evolved well beyond anything that they can construct on their own efficiently and with scale.”
According to industry estimates, eight per cent of all electric meters are swapped out annually for retrofit or for failure. Ninety per cent of all electric outages are spent determining cause and location – typically after the utility has been notified of the outage by their customer.
“What is really cool about our smart grid technology – and very disruptive – is that we have built Grid Wide as an as-a-service model, which removes the complexities, time and cost for utilities with having to build their own solution,” said Olearain.“As a result, utilities don't have to swap out their entire meter population, they can start to solve the problem areas right now on a per-month, per-meter cost basis.”
Grid Wide offers more than simply the ability to read a smart meter remotely. It turns the meter into a power-quality sensor to help utilities understand the quality of the product or electricity they are delivering to their customer. A 4G LTE communications card integrated into a smart meter communicates its meter data over Verizon’s wireless network through a private network and then to Verizon’s cloud environment.
Pre-configured data and analytics dashboards provide timely information regarding outages and abnormal usage patterns while also enabling utilities to optimise revenue.
Verizon has more than a dozen years of experience in developing and deploying IoT connected services, and today manages millions of connected devices. Its revenue from the IoT and telematics totalled about $165m in the second-quarter in 2015 and $320m in the year to date.