GSMA CTO Alex Sinclair called on European mobile operators to act now to take advantage of the growing smart energy sector, by accelerating rollout of low power wide area (LPWA) NB-IoT and LTE-M networks.

According to forecasts published by specialist IoT analyst house Machina Research, Europe’s connected energy market will be worth $26 billion by 2026 with a potential 158 million new smart meters set to be installed across the continent.

“The Internet of Things is fundamentally disrupting the smart utility market by providing ubiquitous connectivity and real time, actionable data. Mobile IoT networks will take this further by offering energy providers a cost-effective solution to connect millions of smart meters,” Sinclair said.

“There is a real sense of momentum behind the rollout of Mobile IoT networks with multiple global launches, however, there is still a huge runway for growth. We encourage operators to act now to capitalise on this clear market opportunity and further accelerate the development of the IoT.”

The GSMA’s Mobile IoT initiative promotes LPWA networks run by mobile operators using either LTE-M or NB-IoT technologies. By October 2017, 21 commercial networks using the 3GPP-standardised cellular technologies had been launched by 14 operators including AT&T, Verizon, Telstra, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone.

Growing opportunity
Machina Research’s figures from early October estimate the current value of the connected energy market at $11.7 billion annually, with Europe contributing 21 per cent of the total. However, the continent’s share looks set to increase as the European Commission (EC) tabled a proposal for the installation of 200 million smart electricity meters and 45 million gas meters across the region by 2020.

The EC estimates its policy, if approved, will bring the proportion of Europeans with a smart meter to 72 per cent for electricity and 40 per cent for gas.