The European Commission recently published a proposal indicating that 200 million electricity smart meters and 45 million gas meters will be rolled out by 2020. The EC also estimates that by 2020, 72 percent of European customers will have a smart meter for electricity and about 40 percent will have one for gas.
In their ongoing quest for new sources not only of revenue but of relevance in an age of looming commodification of mobile services, operators have some fresh choices. One of those is connected energy, one of a number of IoT systems that are gaining traction globally. Unlike some IoT applications such as smart home and various other consumer gadgets, energy is an essential service for industry and consumers alike. Therefore, the revenue potential is very high, as indicated by the figures arrived at in the European study cited by GSMA. As Europe accounts for just about one fifth of the world market for connected energy, the global potential is truly enormous.
As such, we think the development of connected-energy networks should be a priority for MNOs in the coming years. Those operators that have the resources to do so would be very well served by partnering with the appropriate entities to not only devise innovative systems for energy generation, distribution, and monitoring but also to build out the kinds of networks that are necessary for functionality via the IoT.
Examples of this kind of development that could serve as models for mobile operators include the following: In the Netherlands, Deutsche Telekom has deployed NB-IoT networks for smart metering and smart lighting solutions in several municipalities; Vodafone is developing several NB-IoT initiatives, including a water metering project in Valencia, Spain; in the U.S., AT&T is partnering with Capstone Metering to monitor water usage using LTE-M, another IoT standard that uses low-power signals over broadband. China Mobile is exploring NB-IoT for water quality monitoring, while China Unicom is using NB-IoT to take readings from energy and water meters and is partnering with an energy company on a smart cities project.
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