Understanding smart metering and sustainability

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Did you know we’re at the start of the next big social and economic revolution? So suggest many recognized sustainability experts, who are saying that as we see digital technology moving from where it’s currently at – connecting people-to-people – to where it’ll be in the very near future – connecting machine-to-machine, we’ll become much more empowered. As consumers’ we’ll be more in control of things.

What started off in the 90’s with the formation of the Internet, grew in the early 2000’s with the rise of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Consumer control grew further with the coming of Amazon and eBay, and now we’re seeing new digital enterprises such as ZipCar, Zopa, Airbnb and Streetbank that are empowering consumers worldwide with more choice and control.

And it’s impacting at a household level too. Did you know you can now get an app which’ll monitor your home’s energy profile and recommend what service provider would be best for your family?

And as Telefonica’s technology goes into 20 million homes across the central and southern regions of Britain by 2020, as a result of our winning bid for the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC’s) Smart Meter Implementation Programme (SMIP) earlier this summer,  consumer empowerment is only set to grow.

With a combined value of approximately £1.5 billion, our win represents the world’s most ambitious smart meter deployment to date. Telefónica UK & Digital will deliver the machine to machine connectivity between the new meters in our homes and our energy supplier’s data centre.

The techy bit

The solution is based primarily on our cellular network and complimented with RF mesh representing the ideal communications technology for smart meter deployments. Cellular is a proven, open, standards-based technology that is ready to support the needs of smart meters without needing additional infrastructure. Mesh compliments cellular, providing coverage in more remote areas and in hard to reach spaces. We have successfully tested both technologies in relation to smart meters and currently connect over 400,000 smart meters in Great Britain.

The sustainability bit

We believe that smart meters are a foundation to a smarter and more sustainable future and this win is a great testament to the sustainability benefits that our technology offers. It shows how Telefónica products and services can help customers live in an easier and more sustainable way, as we promised in our Think Big Blueprint. One of Telefónica UK’s commitments was that by 2015, we’d help over 350,000 UK households save money and over 300,000 tonnes of carbon in the home. This win help deliver that promise.

Alongside the energy and cost-savings this development will bring to UK householders, it will also deliver savings in terms of the fuels used to generate energy, transport impacts, and of course, carbon savings. We’ve estimated that by 2020 this win alone, could see carbon-savings to consumers that offset our own Telefónica UK network carbon-footprint by a factor of over 2.5.


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