For some time, electric, gas and water utilities have used wireless networks as one means of linking various field devices to their central operations systems. Until recently, however, the use of such networks in the utility sector has been limited in scope, primarily due to restrictive pricing and perceived technical limitations. However, a “confluence of factors” reportedly is leading a major shift in how utilities view public wireless options as they roll out smart grids.
According to a recent report from Colo.-based Pike Research, global annual service revenue from public wireless network nodes in smart-grid applications will top $1 billion by 2020, representing a 27-percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from now until then.
In addition, some 73 million wireless M2M communication nodes will be shipped for use in smart-grid applications during the period from 2011 through 2020, Pike says.
“Carriers and integrators have awakened to the unique opportunity of the smart grid. It is no longer just another general vertical-market application,” comments Vice President Bob Gohn. “With new pricing and service offerings specifically tailored for the large number of endpoints but relatively low aggregate data volume typical of grid applications, public cellular is becoming a real competitor to private utility-owned networks. The end result is a significant and growing monthly stream of revenue to the carrier, without taxing the carrier’s network resources.”
Largely thanks to smart-grid deployments driven by the European Union’s much-publicized 20-20-20 mandate, Pike Research calls Europe “the leading region for public cellular node unit shipments and revenue through the remainder of the decade.”
Europe also likely will lead the market in annual service revenue, due largely to the volume of aggregate data being sent by the region’s smart meters as well as the smaller (yet steadily growing) number of nodes being used for such applications as distribution automation and substation automation.