Advanced electricity meters with integrated cellular communication modules are forecast to increase from 2.6 million shipments in 2010 to 9.5 million shipments annually in 2016, according to a new study from IMS Research.
The largest volumes of shipments are forecast to be in the U.S. and U.K. In the U.S. a larger percentage of the opportunity for new smart meter installations will likely come from smaller utilities that have spread-out populations in diverse geographies. As telecoms providers lower the total cost of ownership for a cellular-based smart metering solution, these small utilities, which have less capital and often do not enjoy the tax write-offs that come with large fixed capital intensive projects, will switch to such solutions. Further, the larger utilities in the U.S. as well as elsewhere in the world may begin to seek ways to collaborate with local telecoms to make cellular a more viable option.
Rolando Campos, who authored the report, commented:
“In the U.S., telecoms have reduced the cost of data plans for meters significantly to about $1 (or less) per meter, per month. Utilities that wish to reduce up front capital expenditures by over 40 percent and reduce operating expenses are finally realizing the benefits of using public cellular providers.”
The U.K. is forecast to have the largest cumulative volume of cellular smart meters in the world from 2010 to 2016. There, cellular solutions are key due to the general structure of the utilities and grid operators, whereas a meter change-out may happen piecewise, making cellular M2M devices the likely solution. There are already plans for some suppliers to ship cellular meters next year and as telecoms in the U.K. begin to see the business opportunity in the U.S. mature, telecoms providers in the region are likely to follow suit and make pricing per meter more competitive.