Weightless Technology

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Richelle Elberg

Principal Research Analyst

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Low Power Networking Solutions

for Second Gen Smart Metering

New Options Available for Greenfield or Upgrade Advanced Metering Infrastructure

Ten years ago, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 spurred widespread investment in advanced metering infrastructure (AMI, a.k.a. smart meters) across the US. Since then, many electric utilities have realized those early investments no longer economically support the full breadth of applications and data traffic they currently need or desire.

 

New networking protocols have emerged over the past decade. As a result, utilities should not simply refresh aging infrastructure with legacy protocols. Rather, they must take a fresh look at the long-term operating benefits they can derive from their grid-edge field area networks (FANs) and consider the costs and characteristics of several new AMI networking options.

 

This Guidehouse Insights white paper provides a high-level technical evaluation of several low power wide area (LPWA) networking protocols increasingly considered for AMI systems. It also compares these newer options with the most commonly deployed legacy wireless protocols: unlicensed radio frequency (RF) mesh systems and proprietary broadband point-to-multipoint (P2MP) systems relying on licensed spectrum. (Note that many of the newer LPWA protocols also operate in P2MP configurations, but in the context of this paper, P2MP refers to legacy broadband solutions that utilities have historically deployed for AMI.)

 

This paper also presents a heat map comparing the suitability of each technology based on characteristics of the AMI deployment. These include once/day meter reads versus 15-minute reads; urban, suburban, and rural environments; grid-edge applications such as transformer and voltage monitoring; and support for water and gas systems or smart city applications.

About Guidehouse Insights - Guidehouse Insights is a premier market intelligence and advisory firm covering the global energy transformation with a focus on emerging resilient infrastructure systems