ConnecTEd World: How the AMI Market is Shifting from Proprietary Mesh to Cellular Solutions

Known for utilizing proprietary mesh networks, advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) discovers the benefits of moving over to cellular networks. TE Connectivity’s Gordon Barber, Global Director IoT, RF Solutions, and Sequans Communications’ Nick Taluja, EVP Sales & Customer Support, dove into this trend with ConnecTED World’s Tyler Kern.

According to Barber, looking back through the history of AMI, it wasn’t feasible to have a mobile operated system.

“The technologies weren’t aligned. We didn’t have the radios at the end-device level that were attractive enough in costs. We were maybe even at 2G coming into 3G. The idea of IoT from a mobile network operator perspective hadn’t been well vetted, and it hadn’t gotten off the ground.”
At the same time, mesh networks were a reliable, easy-to-implement available solution.

But today’s advanced technologies eliminate many of the challenges of using mobile operator networks and make switching over from managing a mesh network an attractive and economical choice.

Taluja said there are many advantages to going down the path of digital meters.
“What has happened is people have learned that you can do things like remote disconnect. You can do things like load curtailment. You can talk about energy management. And there’s a slew of additional services and things that the digitization of AMI can offer.”

With the emergence and importance of IoT, getting the most out of one’s AMI system means having a network setup with advanced technology. Today, that means cellular. The upgrades and enhancements are not occurring in mesh networks.

“It comes back again to economics,” Taluja said. “Cellular modules that used to be $75 10 years ago – today, you can get them for about a tenth of the price.”

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