May 22, 2017

Japan Using Cellular IoT to Lead Way for Mass Smart Metering Deployment

As the Internet of Things continues to advance, the smart metering market is expected to explode. Influenced by rising energy prices, increases of energy theft, demand for more accurate billing and a heightened awareness of energy conservation, the global market is expected to reach nearly $20 billion by 2022.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Japan where, following the 2011 Fukushima crisis and subsequent move from nuclear power, the government’s Energy-Environment Council set an 85% nationwide target smart electrical meter adoption by 2020.

Aggressive smart metering rollout is very much a global phenomenon. However, what sets Japan apart is the top-down nature of this initiative. The Japanese government is significantly driving the deployment of smart utilities, having mandated that up to 100 million buildings and households be connected within the next three years.

Government Lead Initiative

While the rollout in Japan is government-led, individual companies have been granted the freedom to select the technologies they will use. With Cellular IoT solutions having matured sufficiently to enable mass-market deployments, LTE is fast becoming the technology of choice for Japanese providers; it provides the extended battery life, low power consumption, cost efficiency, and reduced size essential to smart utility metering. While initial observations suggest that deployments will begin with CAT-M1 networks, both CAT-M and NB-IoT are already being targeted. Thus, Altair’s integrated dual-mode chipset has won the tender for all of Japan’s Smart Meters thanks to it’s low power consumption, small size, and large capabilities.

Practical Rollout

The result for Japan will be a uniform – even harmonious – rollout with individual gas, water and electricity vendors having received clear targets in terms of deployments schedules and new technology trials. This means that the mass adoption will happen much faster than in other countries. In comparison, European and American utility companies are having to drive smart meter implementation themselves, resulting in a slower and far more sporadic deployment.

For the future of efficient and high-volume smart metering deployment, Japan is a market to watch.