As the move to deploy large-scale smart metering gathers pace, the UK Government has been warned that it may need to allocate dedicated spectrum to prevent network capacity problems hampering the ambitious programme.
This note of caution came as the Government revealed plans to speed up the programme, which aims to install SIM-enabled smart meters for gas and electricity in over 27 million UK homes and businesses by 2017, three years earlier than planned.
The announcement also confirmed that the metering programme would be delivered via framework contracts, which could see the mobile network operators signing long-term lucrative deals.
However, according to Eddie Murphy, MD of Priory Consulting, the entire smart metering programme could be put in jeopardy unless the Government sets aside spectrum for the rollout of smart meters as the networks were becoming increasingly congested, and they will need to have adequate capacity as it evolves.
But for operators, the metering programme offered a host of opportunities, such as becoming gateways to providing a range of home-based services--including health monitoring and security services. "This is hugely attractive to mobile operators, particularly as SIM sales are slowing. This programme opens up the opportunity to sell SIMs into millions of homes," added Murphy.
The potential for the mobile community was also backed 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."
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