The hidden costs of cellular technology in smart metering: A wake-up call - Wirepas

The hidden costs of cellular technology in smart metering: A wake-up call

Teppo Hemiä

The deprecation of older mobile network generations is no surprise. Still, it may affect even the core functions of our societies. Millions of smart meters are becoming obsolete due to the phasing out of 2G and 3G mobile networks in the UK, highlighting significant challenges associated with cellular technology use for IoT applications. Here are the key takeaways: 
1. Poor Coverage and Connectivity Issues 
Even in a developed country like the UK, we've seen that a substantial percentage of smart meters are not properly connected. This means that despite substantial investments, a significant portion of these devices simply aren't doing what they're designed to do—providing accurate data. 
2. Mobile Network Shutdowns 
Mobile operators' decisions to shut down 2G and 3G networks due to poor business viability have put millions of smart meters at risk of becoming expensive bricks. Can you trust any public network like NB-IoT that is not financed by billions of smartphones? This not only affects the functionality of these devices but also places the financial burden of hardware upgrades on billpayers. 
3. Standard Essential Patent IPR fee collection 
On top of these issues, there's an additional concern regarding Standard Essential Patent holders charging IPR fees for the use of cellular technology in smart metering. These fees can significantly increase the overall cost per connection, ultimately impacting consumers' pockets. 
A Better Alternative: NR+ 
The good news is that there's a non-cellular 5G alternative without any dependency on infrastructure or mobile operators and associated data fees, specifically designed to address these issues. 
With NR+, you can avoid connectivity problems, as every meter is a "base station", network shutdown issues, as they are private networks and unexpected patent fees, as only a handful of standard essential patents are declared vs. >17 000 by 3GPP players for cellular, which have plagued cellular-based smart metering. 
In conclusion, it's time to reevaluate the approach to smart metering technology. By adopting future-proofed solutions like NR+, we can not only ensure more reliable and cost-effective IoT deployments but also reduce the burden on consumers. The shift to smarter technology choices is the way forward. 

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