The AMR radio networks that are being used as AMI (Advanced Meter Infrastructure) are building on many of the same building blocks as the internet and Internet of Things (IoT).
So what is the IoT? And why does it matter for AMR?
Cisco has defined IoT as:
“The IoT links smart objects to the Internet. It can enable an exchange of data never available before, and bring users information in a more secure way. Cisco estimates the IoT will consist of 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020.”
Applying known technology and principles to private networks opens for new solutions and can ensure the AMI will be an investment for the future. The public internet has already shown how the networks have been able to evolve as technologies and businesses change.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure
The AMIs are using many of the same IP protocols and network technologies as other data networks. The main difference is that the AMIs are typically private networks with no access to the public internet. Even if the AMI networks are private many will use the public internet or public mobile data networks for transport of meter data in encrypted tunnels, especially for backhaul communication. The encrypted tunnels allow the private network to communicate privately over public networks.
Internet of Things relies on flexible wireless communication. The communication networks will need to be autonomous and grow “organically” as the number of devices increase with a multitude of functions and communication requirements. Some of the things will be more or less stationary, other devices will be moving around.
The meters in an AMR system will typically be stationary, but the networks will be changing over time with new houses, new power stations, new technologies, new requirements, new demands and new business models. In order to meet these changes and to keep up with the technology it is important to closely follow the activities in IoT.
The way devices communicate, in a mesh network of devices is similar and built on the same principles. The Radio planning challenges for both AMI and IoT are more or less identical.
The IoT business is estimated by Forbes to be a “$19 trillion opportunity by 2020”. The large technology companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Cisco and IBM are investing a lot in this area, and this will drive a lot of the new technologies.
Manage and plan your wireless networks
One thing that is for sure is that the wireless communication technology will be more and more important. Both capacity and coverage will become critical. The available frequency ranges will most likely be a limited resource. Managing, planning, prioritizing and controlling the way devices communicate will become increasingly valuable.