Annual shipments of smart electricity meters in Europe will grow by 71 percent in 2017 to reach 23.1 million units, according to a new research report from the M2M/IoT analyst firm Berg Insight. Growth is driven by accelerating deployments in France, Italy and the UK that coincide with the final phase of the nationwide rollout in Spain. The great majority of the devices deployed in 2017 use powerline communication (PLC). Already in 2018, shipments of PLC smart meters are however expected to start to decline, even as the market remains strong. Instead radio-based technologies like 4G cellular (LTE-M/NB-IoT) and RF mesh will increase their market shares.
“France and Spain will be the last major countries in Western Europe to deploy pure-play PLC smart metering solutions”, says Tobias Ryberg, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight. “Italy is switching to hybrid PLC/RF communication for improved reliability in the second-generation rollout starting this year. The UK and the Netherlands focus on 2G/4G cellular technologies and in Scandinavia, RF mesh networks have come to dominate the market”.
Berg Insight believes that IoT-optimised cellular technologies such as LTE-M/NB-IoT and RF mesh networks will steadily increase their market shares in smart metering over the next 5–10 years. The shift from 2G to 4G/5G will eventually offer improved performance at lower cost. LTE-M will probably be the most suitable alternative for smart electricity metering, while NB-IoT will cover the needs in smart gas and water metering. At the same time, the standardisation of RF mesh networks by the Wi-SUN Alliance and other standard bodies has a good potential for establishing a thriving ecosystem for connected products in the smart cities and smart energy markets.