Low power wide area networks (LPWANs) have received a lot of hype in the IoT sector over the past several years. Given their suitability for IoT applications such as smart metering, many expect LPWANs to upend the industry.
But when it comes specifically to smart metering, LPWANs’ impact will be limited by several key factors. Market intelligence firm Northeast Group is forecasting that just 153.3 million of the 1.2 billion smart meters deployed over the next ten years—a small but growing share—will be connected via LPWAN, according to a new study published.
“Smart metering is emerging as one of the more immediate large-scale use cases for LPWANs, albeit one that is not as large as some have been forecasting,” according to Steve Chakerian, a senior research analyst at Northeast Group.
“Deployments involving hundreds of thousands of meters—sometimes millions—are now being connected via LPWANs, many of which include a managed services component as connectivity revenue alone is modest. This brings together two of the more important trends in smart metering today.”
In recent years, proprietary LPWAN communications such as Sigfox and LoRa that were first on the scene are ceding ground to cellular NB-IoT and LTE-M networks rolled out by global telecom operators such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Verizon, Vodafone and others. With significant resources and heightened capability, these cellular networks are becoming the preferred option for LPWAN smart metering deployments.
At the same time, LPWAN smart metering deployments will still be modest compared with competing communications options such as Wi-SUN RF mesh, PLC and other existing and deeply entrenched communications solutions for smart metering.
The LPWAN vendor landscape for smart metering is comprised of pure play LPWAN vendors, telecom operators, telecom equipment providers, and metering
vendors. One of the more interesting developments will be the working relationship between smart metering vendors and LPWAN providers. Many metering vendors offer their own communications solutions and already, a “frenemy” ecosystem is emerging in which metering vendors both compete against and work with LPWAN operators, both cellular and non-cellular.
For more information on Northeast Group’s LPWAN Smart Metering: Market Forecast (2019-2028) study, please visit: www.northeast-group.com