Industry spending on public cellular communications nodes for smart grid applications will grow by 4.5 times in the next five years, according to a study by US company Navigant Research.

The report sees revenue from public cellular companies growing from US$75.4 million a year in 2013 to US$348.3 million by 2018.

Richelle Elberg, senior research analyst at Navigant Research, said: “The ubiquitous network coverage and significantly improved reliability and security of public cellular networks make them an increasingly attractive option for smart grid communications.

“More smart grid communications vendors are adopting cellular-based solutions, preferring to be technology agnostic rather than rely on just one or two communication platforms.”

The report finds that cellular is now commonly seen as an additional connectivity option like power line communications and radio frequency mesh.

Utilities in the UK and Japan are also driving the use of cellular in smart grids.

The report cites the example of Spanish mobile network operator Telefónica providing communications infrastructure in the UK, where 50 million smart meters will be rolled out between 2013 and 2020.

Although slower to adopt cellular than their European counterparts, Navigant expects to see more North American utilities using public communication networks as part of their smart grid roll outs.

The report finds that recent advancements in 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE), combined with multimode chipsets and aggressive pricing from the carriers, have helped build a case for the stability and security of cellular.

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