To reduce energy consumption across Europe, one of the European Union’s goals is to implement smart meters in 80 percent of the European households until 2020. These intelligent devices allow remote reading: There is no need to go down to the cellar to read the water meter or to crawl behind the couch to reach the heating meter anymore. Today’s smart meters are connected via short-range radio to a local gateway and enable end customers and grid operators to remotely monitor the energy consumption.
Problem to solve: Poor coverage in cellars
However, this setup requires the utility company to manage a large number of private networks, which comes at high operational costs for setting up and maintaining the connections, especially when meters are located in the basement. Here, because of thick walls and poor coverage, currently used mobile technologies reach their limits. NB-IoT aims at improving this situation by offering direct plug & play wide-area connections with deep indoor penetration.
NB-IoT provides about ten times better area coverage than GSM by Power Spectral Density (PSD) boosting of data and reference signals, by repetition and also by allowing a longer acquisition time or a higher error rate when in extended coverage mode to reach devices in areas of poor coverage.
So, with an enhanced indoor coverage of +20dB compared to GSM, NB-IoT is predestined for the connection of smart meters in basements. And because of the extremely low power consumption of an NB-IoT module, it will potentially be able to run on regular batteries for many years unattended with no external power supply.
Further benefits: Mass deployment and security
The goal for NB-IoT modules is to be designed for low costs, which benefits the broad deployment of smart meters in addition to the ability to address a larger number of devices per cell. Another advantage of NB-IoT: given that this technology will be deployed in existing cellular networks, it benefits from established and proven data security mechanisms. Considering the variety of benefits NB-IoT could be a driver for a quicker market adoption of smart meters. The benefit to households: No more waiting for the meter-reading service.