Planning your Smart Water Network...the Arqiva way

Arqiva’s network and radio planning underpins the successful collection, processing and delivery of millions of Smart Water Meter (SWM) readings every day.

Nothing works without the network. Delivering millions of meter readings is impossible without sufficient and accurately designed and predicted radio coverage. That’s why, here at Arqiva, our detailed network and radio planning underpins everything we do for our water company customers. 

In today’s insight-driven world, where reliable transmission of data is critical to accurate customer billing and the wider strategic initiatives of demand management and leakage reduction targets, there’s no substitute for attention to detail in the planning phase. 

Getting the basics right

So, long before the build, it’s imperative to gain a detailed and accurate understanding of how the Fixed Network Infrastructure (FNI) will be required to perform – and plan accordingly. Failure to do so can result in a multiplicity of issues, from installing meters in coverage blackspots to dropped meter readings. 

But detailed doesn’t have to mean delayed. Our radio planners use state-of-the-art planning tools with 10m resolution data (dropping to 2m in highly urbanised areas) to accurately predict radio coverage. The result is a pragmatic design to ensure Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) networks are deployed, quickly, cost efficiently and effectively. 

Arqiva is the first company to build a smart water network at scale in the UK, and our hard-won experience means we get it right...first time. 

Success with Anglian Water

Working with Anglian Water, we set up a smart water metering trial involving the deployment of some 6,200 meters in Newmarket. The planning team optimised the radio network to maximise the coverage with just two macro sites – with the planning tool predicting meter-coverage. When the radio network was switched on, data was collected from 99.92% of the meters that were deployed AMI-ready – proving the accuracy of our radio modelling and resulting in a successful outcome to the trial.   

More power, less noise, reduced costs

It’s not just our experience that makes a difference. As a UK Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) provider, and utilising Arqiva’s private, dedicated and uncontested 412MHz radio spectrum, we deliver assurance, reliability and service levels that are unmatched in the sector. 

Our licence allows Smart Water meters to transmit at power levels up to 10W ERP – up to 100 times more power than solutions using unlicensed spectrum. This means we can maximise transmission range and reduce the number of masts and towers (and all the associated costs). 

Added to this, dedicated spectrum eliminates the background radio noise arising from unlicensed spectrum as there are no other devices competing for bandwidth and interfering with the signal.  Plus, by operating two-way endpoint communication, remote software updates and configuration changes can be conducted over-the-air to avoid costly site visits. 

At 412 MHz, radio waves have better building penetration than cellular and other solutions using higher frequencies. As a result, we regularly achieve better than 99% connectivity – even in difficult to reach locations - at ranges up to 5 km in urban locations and up to 20 km in rural areas. All of which means our base stations can cover areas that include over 50,000 endpoints. 

Leverage existing network infrastructure

Finally, our point-to-multipoint network design uses, wherever possible, our own extensive portfolio of existing masts, towers and rooftops. With infrastructure and power ready to go, clients enjoy radically reduced deployment time. And because we own the sites, there are no protracted landlord negotiations. If new sites are needed, we can establish them at pace, benefiting from excellent relationships with local planning authorities to ensure successful network deployment. 

To find out more about our network design and planning services, get in touch on telecoms.feedback@arqiva.com or call +44 (0)1962 823 434.

Read our guide to smart water transformation for your water business.

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