While the US and Europe have led the way in smart meter deployments, Asia Pacific will account for 65% of the world's installed base by 2020, according to new estimates from US market research company ABI Research.
The data points to mass rollouts in China, which had nearly 210 million units installed by 2014, as a large contributor to the estimated installed base of 780 million in five years' time.
The year 2020 is significant as nationwide rollouts in EU member states are expected to drive smart meter penetration and make Europe the second biggest market for smart meters by installed base, said senior analyst at ABI Research Adarsh Krishnan.
He said: "The region will overtake North America, where mass roll-outs by large utilities peaked already in 2012, leaving the next wave of installations driven by smaller municipal co-operatives.”
Smart meter communication
When looking at meter connectivity, the new research found that power line communication (PLC) technologies—such as PLAN, PLC Prime, and G3 PLC—represent the largest share of connections.
The early adoption of PLC-enabled smart meters in Italy, Spain, and China has given the technology its current momentum, said the analyst.
Meanwhile, cellular connectivity is witnessing a growing adoption, especially in cases where meter implementations are dispersed.
Cellular is also gaining wider acceptance as a feasible, primary connectivity technology, with subscription costs decreasing and utilities becoming more open to using public networks for their smart meter deployments.
Smart meter vendors
The supplier market is mostly dominated by traditional meters vendors such as Landis+Gyr, Itron, Sensus, Elster, Holley Metering, and Kamstrup which provide end-to-end smart metering solutions.
The incumbent vendors are, however, facing stiff competition from new entrants, with the market beginning to favour more modular AMI solutions.
Principal analyst Aapo Markkanen adds, “As the industry evolves, standards-based solutions are becoming an attractive alternative to many utilities.
"This shift is allowing forward-thinking module vendors like Trilliant, Silver Spring Networks, and EnVerv to gain ground against the traditional metering vendors and their proprietary solutions.”