Ericsson, Telefónica Deutschland say LTE is ready for smart meter connections

Ericsson said it proved the ability of LTE as an alternative to existing powerline or fixed network connections for smart meters in trials conducted with Telefónica Deutschland and utility company E.ON.

The Sweden-headquartered company announced that trials of LTE prioritisation--which it states is a standard feature of LTE technology--at an E.ON research centre within the RWTH Aachen University in Germany show the wireless technology is already an effective option to connect smart meters. New features included in LTE release 13 specifications will further improve the technology's suitability for use by utility companies, Ericsson said.

During the tests, the stream of smart meter messages were prioritised using LTE's quality of service (QoS) features. Ericsson said the approach ensured smart meter messages were received quickly even during periods of heavy network load that resulted in other traffic experiencing delays.

"The trials we have run with Telefónica and RWTH ACS show that LTE is an excellent communications option for utilities rolling out smart meters," Ericsson research director Fiona Williams said, noting that researchers were "happy to see that the QoS features of LTE fully met the communication requirements for power network automation, which are far more stringent than other requirements specifications for smart meter measurement acquisition."

Ericsson set up an LTE base station at the University's research centre that was connected to the core networks facilities available at an Ericsson lab in Aachen. An E.ON power network simulator generated a stream of messages that met smart meter usage specifications from Telefónica.

All messages sent during the trials were transmitted in under 100 milliseconds, even when networks were heavily loaded.

Sven Koltermann, head of Energy Sales at Telefónica Deutschland, said the trial results confirm that public LTE networks "offer a reliable and cost effective communications option to utilities companies deploying smart meters."

However, Koltermann cautioned that "such mechanisms for the utilities and their grid stability should always be introduced in close cooperation with German regulatory bodies."

For more:
- see this Ericsson statement

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