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Lower functionality AMI solutions, such as those based on LoRaWAN and NB-IoT technologies, could deliver only half the benefits obtainable with the highest performing AMI solutions, according to new research from Frontier Economics and Artesia Consulting.

The independent research evaluated the risks and opportunities around investment decisions on smart metering solutions, concluding that those lower functionality AMI options will deliver between 50% and 67% of the benefits of the highest performing AMI solution.

Key findings:

  • Solutions with greater functionality and capability can deliver greater benefits than alternatives.
  • For smart metering to deliver transformative, sustained and maximised benefits, data and insight from the chosen solutions needs to:
    • Capture readings more than once a day
    • Be timely
    • Be available over a wide area (i.e. high degree of property coverage)
    • Provide reliable data returns from a high proportion of the installed meters
  • The analysis found that a high performing solution, delivering hourly data (returned to the water company once a day), with high coverage and read success, could deliver £4,137 of benefits per meter.
  • By comparison, a solution offering daily data (returned to the water company once a week), and only medium coverage and read success, would deliver only £2,782 of benefits, equivalent to 67% of the high performing solution.
  • A solution capturing daily data (returned to the water company once a month), and with low coverage and read success, would offer only £2,058 of benefits – 50% of the benefits offered by the high performing solution.

Water companies should be aware of the risk of technological lock-in, the research concludes, and should therefore consider:

  • Whether their chosen solution can deliver the benefits required from smart metering over the next 15 to 20 years.
  • Whether their chosen solution delivers the optionality to meet future challenges and more extreme scenarios.
  • Whether their chosen solution will meet current and future regulatory expectations for customer engagement on water efficiency and also support for vulnerable customers.

The report – Smart water metering: making the right decisions – follows the publication in 2022 of joint research by Frontier Economics and Artesia Consulting which demonstrated the scale of benefits achievable with a co-ordinated roll-out of smart water metering.


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