When it comes to investing in meters and associated services it is important to look for solutions based on international standards, recommends Robert Ronald Denda, Chairman of the Protocol Specification Committee for METERS AND MORE, an International non-profit association governed by Belgian Law.
The METERS AND MORE Smart Metering Information and Telecommunication Protocol (SMITP) is one of the communication protocols defined in CENELEC CLC/TS 50568x and the association promotes the availability of interoperable devices through cooperation and certification.
Mr Denda told Engerati in an exclusive interview at African Utility Week that it is also important to look for a cost-effective system architecture that solves immediate utility needs while at the same time is scalable to support the integration of new applications and technology for a smarter future. Furthermore, utilities should look for a robust field proven solution that includes security mechanisms to protect grid assets.
He says, “METERS AND MORE is a robust solution optimized for narrowband power line and wireless communications. In fact, METERS AND MORE technology has been chosen to connect over 50 million customers worldwide and the technology receives strong support from chip suppliers, device manufacturers and utilities.”
Evolving to meet industry needs
METERS AND MORE was founded in 2010 to maintain and promote the most widely deployed communication protocol for smart metering. As a global industry organization, their goal is to ensure that the METERS AND MORE protocol, officially recognized as a standard protocol for smart grid communications at CLC/TC 13 CENELEC (CLC/TS 50568-4:2015, CLC/TS 50568-8:2015), evolves to meet industry needs.
Through their certification programmes, they promote an open and interoperable end-to-end solution for bidirectional data transfer in Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) systems. With over 40 members, METERS AND MORE represents a full technology ecosystem including leading technology providers, meter manufacturers, system integrators, distribution system operators, technological service providers and other institutions.
“Because the protocol is widely field proven, with a superior success rate in real network conditions and it accommodates a large number of communication interfaces enabling services beyond metering, METERS AND MORE offers African utilities a cost-effective system architecture that solves immediate utility needs such as: cash collection, network optimization, reduction of non technical losses and reduction in energy consumption.”
Asked to give a description of the new smart grid interfaces for applications beyond the meter that are being offered, he says that METERS AND MORE aims to become a reference for real-time communication to customers, as well as smart grids and smart city applications. “METERS AND MORE technology already represents a comprehensive solution for smart metering and the association is developing extensions for complementary value-added services based on the same principles of openness, interoperability, efficiency, robustness and security of communications.”
To this end, their Technical Committee for Protocol Specifications, has developed two Working Packages:
Develop the specifications for a new generation communication solution between the meter and end-customer devices
Develop METERS AND MORE-compatible communication technologies for smart city applications.
Global smart metering market
With particular reference to Africa, utilities seek a system architecture that solves immediate utility needs such as: cash collection, network optimization, reduction of non-technical losses and reduction of energy consumption. According to Mr Denda, the METERS AND MORE protocol helps to solve these challenges. It is officially recognized for smart grid communications at CENELEC (CLC/TS 50568) offering utilities and vendors a standard solution that facilitates accurate meter reading and billing.
He says that the METERS AND MORE protocol has been proven to deliver efficient, robust and secure communications across a range of different topologies and applications.
“As the name suggests, the METERS AND MORE protocol can be used to connect more than just the meter. Outside Europe, the technology is already being implemented in an important number of pilots, such as in Brazil, India, and the Philippines proving the capability of METERS AND MORE technology in smart city applications and in the most severe and challenging LV network conditions. Because it uses powerline communications (PLC) for remote meter management, the METERS AND MORE protocol offers African utilities a cost effective opportunity to add secure communications to the existing network.”