Tom Mills

Tom Mills, Director of the Strategic Customer Team, EMEA & AP, expands on the critical nature of a licensed spectrum for mission critical IoT applications and discusses the important elements surrounding a successful critical IoT deployment for a communications network and why Japan is currently a hotbed for investment.


What is the key message utilities need to understand when developing their strategy to deploy a critical communications network?

 Our key message is that utilities need a licensed spectrum smart network for mission critical IoT. Smart networks represent an unprecedented opportunity to move the utility industry into a new era of untold efficiency and sustainability that promises to contribute to the environmental and economic health of the world. In order for a smart network to be successful, utility companies must be able to reach their meters to get accurate and reliable data readings. By using a dedicated, mission critical IoT network, any issues or obstacles to this success would be entirely avoided.


A lot of industries use the term IoT, but what is Mission Critical IoT and how can it help cut a company’s financial losses?

Mission Critical IoT is the term used to describe the intelligent network utility companies implement to enable near-real time communication of their water, gas and electricity networks. A failure in any of these networks could result in catastrophic consequences for consumers and untold financial losses for the utilities. Some data and applications are too important to be part of the universal concept of IoT. Connected utilities should instead be part of a separate category: Mission Critical IoT The critical aspect these networks represent the importance of choosing the appropriate communications technology platform and supplier.


Are there specific goals that need to be met to make a successful investment in a critical national infrastructure?

Three crucial goals need to be met in order for a successful smart meter project to be achieved: reliability, security and efficiency. These can only be guaranteed with a communications platform operating in a licensed and dedicated radio spectrum. The use of licensed spectrum facilitates two-way communication between the utility and its customers. In order to fully support a smart meter project that is responsible for the connectivity of a critical national infrastructure, the selection and availability of spectrum is essential. Expecting smart meters to be just another ‘thing’ under the Internet of Things (IoT) umbrella means fundamentally misunderstanding the diverse requirements and different levels of security of connected devices. Some devices are in one fixed place, such as smart meters, while wearables, for example, are constantly on the move. While all connected devices will produce data, critical applications such as smart utilities will produce more important data. Connected utilities should be prioritised as part of a separate category, separate from other connected devices such as fitness trackers and smart TVs. The use of a dedicated, licensed spectrum assures a better signal-to noise ratio, low interference and guaranteed connectivity. All of these factors help meet the growing demands of the developing smart industries and ensure successful rollouts that ultimately increase operational efficiencies.


Which technologies are most attractive to the Japanese market at the moment and what are the primary drivers for their adoption?

The Internet of Things (IoT) developments are beneficial for Japan’s economic and social development. IoT offers many opportunities to grow the economy and improve quality of life. Just as the public sector was instrumental in enabling the development and deployment of the internet in Japan, it should play a similar role in IoT to ensure its success. So, given the massive proliferation of new IoT devices and the economic and social implications, the decision about using licensed versus unlicensed spectrum is a significant one for utility executives across Japan to make.


What does Sensus bring to the table that differentiates it from others?

The Sensus FlexNet communications network solution, based on long range radio technology, is the foundation of smart infrastructure for utilities and cities, whether it is for smart electricity, gas, water or smart lighting solutions. Sensus was recently awarded a contract in the UK as part of the GB Smart Metering Programme, involving 16 million electric/ gas meters being connected to 10 million end points. This is one of the largest smart metering programmes in the world with 99.5% coverage contract required. Sensus has more than 37 million smartpoints successfully installed across the globe and with a manufacturing history spanning 170 years, has dedicated itself to perfecting its unique service offering to the utility industry.