Landis+Gyr and Vodafone embed global IoT connectivity into meters and grid assets
Swiss energy management company Landis+Gyr has signed with UK-based Vodafone to connect smart meters and smart grid applications to 400-odd mobile networks in 180 countries using Vodafone’s network and roaming partnerships, as well as its IoT device management and services portfolio.
The partnership, formalised as a long-term service contract, is billed by the pair as an “industry-first” to simplify the integration of smart devices into energy grids and accelerate the adoption of “green energy technology”. Landis+Gyr will integrate Vodafone connectivity in its products and devices before shipping to energy companies worldwide. The deal covers “a range of cellular access technologies”, but the announcement puts focus on NB-IoT, in particular.
Meters and grid assets from Landis+Gyr will attach automatically to Vodafone’s own networks, or else to its roaming partners’ in markets where it does not run its own infrastructure. “The most appropriate access technology will be decided on specific use cases but could include any of the above,” said Vodafone, in response to a question about which of its 2G, 3G, LTE (4G), 5G capabilities (and cellular IoT sub-set technologies) will be mostly engaged.
Smart meters will connect by default on NB-IoT and LTE-M, the twin cellular protocols for low-power wide-area (LPWA) machine communications; grid assets will use a range of cellular technologies, according to use case and local availability. Vodafone said it has NB-IoT networks in 18 countries, plus an “extensive ecosystem” of roaming partners. There are 141 cellular IoT networks globally, comprising 96 NB-IoT networks and 45 LTE-M networks, according to the GSMA.
Embedded connectivity will save utilities from manual setup and configuration of Landis+Gyr meters and grid assets, said Vodafone. The agreement covers various types of SIM hardware. “As iSIM is developed we anticipate it being included in future offerings with Landis + Gyr,” the company said.
The pair said the arrangement will simplify and accelerate the process to build, configure, and deploy large-scale connected energy networks. Vodafone’s IoT management software will also provide utility customers with the ability to monitor connected assets in the grid. Vodafone emphasised the security and reliability afforded by cellular IoT, compared with equivalent low-power wide-area IoT technologies in unlicensed spectrum.
A statement from Vodafone said: “As more energy assets are installed and [required to] interact with grids worldwide, being able to securely recognise and manage them becomes essential. This is particularly true for distributed devices and green energy assets, like solar panels and new energy storage systems. Streamlining and securing the data connection from devices into the grid provides utilities with better visibility, helping accelerate adoption.”
Werner Lieberherr, chief executive at Landis+Gyr, said: “The partnership will allow us to elevate our offerings to meet the unique needs of our customers today and in the future. We will be able to deliver longevity and quality of service to match utility asset lifecycles, creating the base for interactive smart grids with increasing intelligence embedded at the grid edge. This will enable customers, consumers and communities to manage energy in a more informed way, making a positive impact on the environment”.
Vinod Kumar, chief executive at Vodafone Business, said: “IoT is key to the digitalisation of the utilities sector. Connecting assets will help manage energy better and support the safe integration of renewable energy sources into power grids, helping to reduce carbon footprints. We believe NB-IoT will enable more and more companies to be not only more resilient and future-ready, but also more sustainable.”