Smart Meters for Smart Customers in the UK

In the very near future, the telecommunications industry will be turned on its head by the IoT. Digital and communications service providers won’t be managing data for just a few personal devices per user; a single user’s data plan could soon encompass not one or two devices, but 20, 30 or 50 smart home devices – including everything from a toaster to a thermostat to a watch. Connected home technology is already seeing rapid adoption in the residential utilities market, reported by Analysys Mason to be the fastest growing M2M sector. Utilities in the home, like gas and electricity, can be intelligently monitored and controlled using smart meters with intuitive interfaces, which can save both energy and costs.

Seeing an opportunity to differentiate in the crowded UK telco market, Telefónica entered into a 15-year project with the government to provide connectivity for 53 million smart meters being deployed across Great Britain by 2021. In a £1.6 billion deal, Telefónica UK was awarded two out of the three regions in the nation, and is now using a combination of existing cellular networks combined with mesh technology to support this dynamic, intelligent energy management.

The world’s most ambitious smart meter deployment to date, the project will help reduce energy usage and carbon dioxide consumption across Great Britain. It will also lay the foundation for smarter homes in the future, with value-added services like home automation being delivered through the same infrastructure, which is helping drive even greater adoption and interest in the connected home.

Consumer research, commissioned by Telefónica and conducted by YouGov, found that 60 percent of UK respondents believed the smart home capabilities helped build a case for having smart meters in their homes.

Paul Eggleton, Head of Energy & Sustainability Solutions (M2M) at Telefónica wrote in a blog post that: “Much of this [program’s] benefit will be down to operational efficiencies gained through updating ageing infrastructure and providing the industry with the information necessary to transform the distribution of energy on the grid. But an equally significant proportion of the benefits will derive from changing the way consumers engage with energy consumption.”

This change in the way users engage with their utilities, which Paul describes, will carry over into how they engage with their data plans, as smart meters become just one of a wide range of IoT devices in the home. By developing, managing and refining a “smart way to smart energy,” Telefónica UK is now well ahead of the business diversification game – and leading the IoT pathway for prosumers and deeper into the homes and lives of consumers.

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