Smart metering is coming to the UK. Between 2014 and 2019, energy suppliers will be responsible for the roll out of more than 53 million gas and electricity meters to 30 million homes and small businesses.
This is part of the transition to support Britain becoming a low carbon economy and ensure that the country’s energy needs are affordable, secure and sustainable.
Smart metering enables two important changes – one to consumer behaviour and one for the utilities. It allows consumers to validate the amount of energy they are using and change behaviour to a more sustainable, cost-effective pattern. The impact for utilities is to provide a more informed and accurate real-time view of consumer behaviour, one where these companies are able to manage the needs of consumers in a more effective way.
To aggregate the data from such a vast number of locations requires secure and reliable connectivity. Fortunately, the growth in consumer data consumption across 3G networks provides the opportunity for the mobile networks to use GPRS bandwidth to deliver an effective solution. GPRS is ideal for small but regular amounts of telemetry data and provides the near universal coverage and reliability that the utilities need to gather information from around the country.
For UK Data Management, automated meter reading (AMR) represents a huge opportunity.
The company has been working with Stream Communications over the last three years to develop and deliver a robust and resilient operating platform.
Stream Communications is a UK-based Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) dedicated to the machine-to-machine (M2M) market. The company provides a stable, secure resilient network for these devices. By using high capacity, low contention architecture to provide a communications channel for these devices, it is helping major utilities, local and national government and emergency services utilise the data collected in a quick and effective manner.
Stream has partnered with many of the UK’s tier 1 mobile networks to extend and enhance their GPRS network offering and recently became the first to offer a true non-steered UK national roaming GSM/GRPS solution. The MVNO is better suited to provide this integrated GPRS network as its off mask architecture is designed with M2M communication in mind. This is complemented by its real-time, scalable SIM management platform, designed for large volumes of subscriber connections to be efficiently connected, managed and supported with the minimum of resource.
For UK Data Management, this provided a framework upon which to deliver an extensive roll out of AMR services.
‘To generate data for our customers, we need fault-resistant, reliable connections that work across a wide geographical area, providing the ability to securely transmit data from A to B in real time; the Stream Communications network has enabled this with ease and flexibility to support our clients’ needs,’ commented Bill Turner, MD of UK Data Management.