12/16/2010 11:58:00 AM
Smart meters threaten spectrum overload
The Government may have to ring-fence spectrum to deliver its smart meter programme, a leading telecoms analyst warned this week.
Speaking in the wake of the Government’s interim report on its smart metering programme, published earlier this week, Priory Consulting MD Eddie Murphy (pictured, inset) said: ‘There is a possibility that the Government may have to set aside some spectrum for the roll out of this programme as the networks are becoming increasingly congested and they will need to have adequate capacity as it evolves.’
Murphy’s views are echoed by O2. In a recent submission to the Government on the smart metering programme, the operator said: ‘There may be a role for Government to determine whether there is a sufficiently strong public policy case for Government to direct Ofcom to reserve spectrum for smart metering.’
The interim report reiterates the Government’s pledge to speed up the programme, which aims to install Sim-enabled smart meters for gas and electricity in over 27 million homes. This could see smart meters installed in all homes and businesses by 2017, three years earlier than planned.
The report also confirmed that the programme will be delivered via framework contracts, which could see network operators cutting long-term lucrative deals.
Murphy said the programme offers a myriad of opportunities for operators. ‘This is hugely attractive to mobile operators, particularly as Sim sales are slowing. This programme opens up the opportunity to sell Sims into 27 million homes,’ he said.
Murphy said smart meters will act as gateways to providing a range of home-based services, including health monitoring and security services.
Murphy’s predictions were backed up by technology analyst Shaun Collins, MD of CCS Insight.
‘It’s a business model based on micro tariffs but at enormous volumes, with serious revenue potential for operators. However, the smart meter programme is the entrance to much bigger opportunities. The next big thing is the ‘internet of stuff’. The connectivity of machines in and outside the home, through smart meters and the Smart Grid, will become as important as electricity is to us now.’
However, Collins questioned the need to allocate network capacity. He said: ‘Smart meters will likely lengthen the life of the 2G network in the early period, as it will involve only very small, lightweight data connections in minute bursts. It will probably be weekly and at off-peak times, so I can’t see the need to allocate spectrum.’