Next step: “Smarten” and connect other meters
To make these systems even more challenging, the diagram above shows only a third of the worldwide smart meters, namely the electric meters.
Indeed, today, the Smart Grid has been focusing mostly on smart electric meters but the next step is to “smarten” and connect all other meters which include water meters, hot water meters and gas meters.
Although these other meters only need to transmit a few bytes uplink per day and even less downlink, they are more challenging to interconnect than electric meters because they have no built-in power and therefore need a very low power connection that can last 5-10 years without battery recharge. They may also be located in difficult to reach places such as a basement, underground or under water, where radio access may be a challenge. Therefore the link budget needs to be very high and will dictate which technology to choose. For these reasons, the only technology contenders are Cellular MTC (Cat-M, NB-IoT), LPWAN (such as LoRa,Sigfox, ...) and WiFi 802.11ah.
About the author
Emmanuel Gresset is Business Development Director, Wireless at CEVA - www.ceva-dsp.com