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Telia Company

Driving rapid adoption of cellular IoT in smart meters

Telia removes barriers for smart grids by enabling massive cellular IoT for millions of smart meters.

Highlights

  • Telia wanted to disrupt the traditional market for connecting smart meters in a power grid to enable better efficiency and interoperability.
  • Telia knew it had a tough challenge ahead - it needed to convince the largest power players, who were all-in on legacy methods of connectivity, that the smarter bet in the long-run was change.
  • Change came in the form of cellular-enabled, Massive IoT, specifically Narrow Band (NB-IoT) and Cat-M1.
  • Telia partnered with systems integrators (SI), ONE Nordic, Sagemcom and Landis+Gyr to connect meters with both NB-IoT and Cat-M1 radios.
  • In addition to guidance and mentorship, Telia leveraged radio access network (RAN) technology from Ericsson, Ericsson Core and the IoT Accelerator management platform.
  • Telia and its SI partners are now in the midst of converting and managing more than 2 million of the 5.4 million electric meters across Sweden with cellular connectivity, on behalf of utility companies E.ON, Ellevio and Kraftringen.

The challenge

As recently as just two years ago, utility providers were confident that fiber optics, powerline communications and RF Mesh networks were the future of smart grid connectivity and enablement. The value of massive cellular IoT (Internet of things) was not clear and the barriers to entry too high. Building smart meters to function on massive cellular IoT connectivity wasn’t even on meter vendors’ roadmaps.

Today, power grid strategies have taken a completely different path. Companies quickly realized that as the world around them continued to digitally transform, traditional methods of connectivity were creating informational silos that were preventing the development of the true smart grid. Building a smart grid begins with smart metering.

Telia Company identified a looming opportunity and set out to disrupt the utility market in its home country of Sweden. Telia knew if it were to succeed, it needed to demonstrate two things: Massive IoT was a more economical, scalable and effective solution in the long run and cellular connectivity was the vehicle to get there. Telia needed a partner with a proven track record in cellular technology and deep experience in the IoT field.

Björn Hansen talks about the Ericsson cooperation

Telia and Ericsson can drive the market

“Currently we can do end-to-end solutions together with [Ericsson] to drive the market. As it matures, we have to jointly understand where in the value stack should Ericsson, and also Telia, be.
 
We will be more in the horizontal layer, creating an ecosystem where vertical expertise can coexist, especially true for 5G. That is the next big journey that lies ahead of us.”

Björn Hansen, Head of IoT, Telia

The solution

Telia turned to long-time partner, Ericsson for two reasons. First, it needed Ericsson’s extensive experience on smart meters and the utility domain to help them formulate a product and go-to-market strategy that would allow them to demonstrate the benefits and differentiators of cellular-enabled Massive IoT.

Telia also needed the tools to execute their strategy and selected technology from Ericsson, which included the company’s Radio Access Network and Core solutions to provide NB-IoT and Cat-M1 connectivity, and IoT platform, to manage the devices, connectivity and security.

The results

Telia was able to show that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of NB-IoT has become less than powerline communications and RF Mesh for last mile connectivity. They were also able to show that management of the millions of smart meters could be greatly simplified with the right technology.

It is rare in any industry to see the pace of adoption currently underway. Just two years ago, meter vendors were not building products designed for Massive IoT deployments. Normally, a revolution like this takes five to 10 years. Now, demand is outpacing supply and vendors are racing to make smart meters a part of the smart grid as the industry has changed direction in a very short amount of time.

With Telia supplying cellular connectivity and IoT management capabilities, two meter vendors, Sagemcom and Landis+Gyr are quickly staking claim to the 5.4 million meters across Sweden. Landis+Gyr is connecting 1 million meters using NB-IoT and Cat-M1 technology for utility company, E.ON. Together, ONE Nordic and Sagemcom are connecting more than 1 million meters for providers Ellevio and Kraftringen, also with NB-IoT and Cat-M1. This will enable E.ON, Ellevio and Kraftringen to finally build true, 5G-enabled smart grids to bring Sweden’s utility infrastructure and delivery into the future.

Smart grid adoption to cellular connectivity is advancing quickly. By deploying a true smart grid environment enabled by Massive IoT and void of informational silos, organizations can:

  • Utilize synergies and standards from horizontal technologies and services
  • Enhance security and operations with cross domain interoperability and transparency
  • Reduce margin costs for adding devices, applications, features and capabilities of the Smart Grid and related services
  • Improve supplier flexibility and avoid vendor lock-in, enabling continuous development.

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