Smart Metering with NB-IoT
“We’re on a mission to develop the next generation of smart metering solutions, focusing on security, privacy and the lowest total cost of ownership.”
CEO – Comsel System Ltd.
Smart metering technology is evolving rapidly. As utilities seek to provide stable connections and accurate, real-time data to customers, they’re looking for robust, future-proof solutions that provide longevity and reliable connectivity.
Comsel System, a Finland-based product design and development company specializing in IoT products for the energy sector, is constantly innovating to meet those needs for its customers in the European energy market.
Addressing the Challenges
Battery life is a significant obstacle in smart metering deployments. Replacing batteries on thousands of units only a few years after installation is time-consuming—not to mention costly—for utility companies. Connectivity is another potential issue, as many cellular standards lack reliable connectivity when units are scattered over long distances, inside buildings or installed in basements.
To address these concerns, Comsel System has introduced a narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) smart metering solution on CK Hutchison’s 3 network in Sweden. Among Europe’s first commercial smart metering deployment on a live LTE NB-IoT network, it sets the stage for utility companies in Sweden and the rest of the world to leverage the standard’s advanced features, including decade-plus battery life and reliable connectivity deep inside buildings and underground.
"Our tests with the NB-IoT/M1 terminals have been both successful and interesting, We are proud to be among the first to utilize NB-IoT for smart energy metering and we strongly believe in its advantages for smart metering applications."
CEO – Comsel System Ltd.
Finding the Right IoT Partner
Comsel chose to add Telit’s ME910C1-E1 module to one of its existing smart meter solutions (previously based on a 3G series of the xE910 family), enabling it to connect flawlessly to 3’s NB-IoT network. This successful trial is already driving new business for Comsel, starting with Swedish utilities. “We have a long cooperation with Telit and look forward to future collaboration,” Heimonen says.
The ME910C1-E1 supports LTE-M and NB-IoT features designed to meet the unique needs of IoT applications such as smart metering.
- Power Saving Mode (PSM) and extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRX), which enable IoT devices to wake up periodically to deliver small amounts of data to the network and then go back to sleep. This power efficiency has the potential to extend battery life beyond 10 years, which is critical for smart meters that typically need to remain in service for at least a decade.
- Enhanced in-building penetration, with smaller coupling loss compared to other cellular standards. This ensures reliable connectivity even when meters are located deep inside buildings or underground utility vaults.
Featuring the industry’s popular 28.2 x 28.2 x 2.2mm LGA form factor, the ME910C1-E1 is a dual mode LTE-M/NB-IoT member of Telit’s best-selling xE910 module family. This common form factor, electrical interfaces and programming interfaces enable IoT vendors to upgrade their existing 2G and 3G xE910-based products with the ME910C1-E1 quickly and inexpensively.
Breaking New Ground
“Comsel’s flawless implementation of Telit’s ME910C1-E1 on 3’s network is a breakthrough for utilities eager to take advantage of NB-IoT,” said Yossi Moscovitz, President of Products and Solutions at Telit. “It also highlights Telit’s brand promise of delivering next-generation IoT solutions quickly and cost-effectively—in this case, that means going from a 3G xE910 to NB-IoT. With little more than a drop-in of the ME910C1-E1, Comsel has captured the emerging market opportunity with the advanced state of the NB-IoT in the Nordics region of Europe.”
“Historically, we’ve been in the forefront with new services, and once again we are the first with an important innovation, this is just the beginning of the avalanche of connections and services that this new technology will enable.”
CEO at 3
Prior to implementation, 3 performed field tests with Comsel System in Skåne, Sweden. The tests leveraged 3’s NB-IoT network guard-band implementation, showing that coverage increased dramatically for locations where it is normally weak, like in basements and inaccessible locations in sparsely populated areas. “It is very interesting to see how the NB-IoT guard-band technology can be used to better results in this context,” said Göran Brandt, Head of IoT/M2M at 3 Sweden. “We’re excited to be breaking new ground in smart metering technology.”
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