How IoT Enables Smart Metering


The Internet of Things (IoT) has transformed how businesses use devices in the workplace. Creating a system for everyday devices, such as door locks, HVAC infrastructure and appliances, to effectively “talk” with each other in real-time has enabled companies to track valuable assets instantaneously.

However, IoT can do so much more. In recent years, it has facilitated smart metering, allowing users to monitor and control utility consumption in real-time.

Here’s how IoT is used for utility management and the key advantages of using this radical technology in business.

How IoT-Enabled Smart Metering Works

IoT-based smart metering works by leveraging internet-connected devices to track and measure the consumption of utilities, such as electricity, water or gas, in a building.

Here’s how the process works:

  • Establish connection: The first step involves connecting the smart meter to a secure network. This connection facilitates data exchange between the IoT smart meter and the utility provider.
  • Record data: Once connected to the network, sensors in the smart meter device begin monitoring the energy consumption. The data captured includes a detailed breakdown of the utility usage down to the minute. This starkly contrasts traditional meters, which only record total power use.
  • Transmit recorded data: The smart meter sends the captured data to the utility provider through the secure network. This transmission occurs at regular intervals — usually every 30 minutes — throughout the day.
  • Feedback loop: The automatic data transmission between the meter and the utility company creates a real-time feedback loop. This forms the basis for monitoring the end user’s energy consumption patterns.
  • Analyse data: Usage patterns provide valuable insights for the utility provider, such as peak consumption periods and anomalies. This knowledge enables them to provide accurate billing and manage resources more efficiently.
  • Control utility usage: Smart meter insights enable end users to identify wasteful usage patterns so they can make necessary adjustments to avoid wasting money on utility bills. For example, they can swap the traditional incandescent lightbulbs for LEDs to reduce energy consumption.

IoT Communication Technologies for Smart Metering

Leveraging IoT in energy management ensures secure and reliable communications between the smart meter and utility provider. Some of the most popular technologies behind these machine-to-machine (M2M) interactions include:

Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT)

NB-IoT, also known as Narrowband IoT communication technology, is specifically designed for low-power, wide-area networks or LPWANs. Operating on the backbone of machine-to-machine (M2M) SIM technology, NB-IoT offers a mobile communication system designed to optimise efficiency and reliability for IoT applications across diverse landscapes. It is an ideal solution for IoT smart metering because it can establish strong connectivity in enclosed spaces, including underground tunnels and bunkers. It also boasts a long battery life of over 10 years and LTE-grade security. Its primary disadvantage is the potential for higher latency, which sits at around 1.6 to 10 seconds.

Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN)

LoRaWAN is a type of LPWAN designed for exceptionally long-range data transmissions of up to 15 kilometres in unobstructed open areas thanks to its physical LoRa layer. It features low power consumption and a long battery life, significantly reducing the cost of support and manual maintenance.

Other benefits of LoRaWAN include ease of installation, seamless connectivity management portals and excellent signal penetration.

Its main drawback comes from limited bandwidth, which can lead to congestion in densely populated areas.


How IoT for Meter Readers Can Help Businesses

IoT smart metering provides specific insights into a business’s utility usage. This data helps them better assess their usage and keep up-to-date resource utilisation reports. For instance, companies can identify areas of high energy consumption and make adjustments to limit waste and save costs.

Monitoring power usage trends and patterns also facilitates predictive analysis, helping businesses adjust their utility consumption based on anticipated requirements. Over time, this can promote energy efficiency and encourage a culture of energy consciousness in the workplace.

Moreover, IoT smart meters enable remote monitoring so utility managers can access the business’s energy consumption data even when they’re outside the office. This feature is particularly useful in ensuring that appliances are turned off when not in use, conserving and minimising environmental impact.

Lastly, IoT systems are easy to use and provide tools such as remote data management and monitoring platforms to help businesses manage their connectivity with real-time insights. Whether setting up triggers and alerts or creating specific reports for informed decision-making, seamless management is just a few taps or clicks away.

Challenges and Considerations

The biggest challenge is the risk of data security and privacy breaches. Because IoT smart meters collect and transmit sensitive consumption information, they’re usually a target for cyberattacks.

Poor third-party IoT practices, such as inadequate authentication and lack of responsibility for devices, further compound IoT risks. For example, only 37% of businesses tracked their third-party IoT exposures in 2020. In the same year, there were 57 million malware attacks on IoT devices.

Ensuring robust cybersecurity in IoT ecosystems revolves around three fundamental objectives — securing data, safeguarding the device and protecting individual privacy. Many system administrators also adopt VPN solutions like IPSec and OpenVPN to secure network communications. These technologies provide top-of-the-line encryption to ensure confidentiality.

Increased IoT adoption across other industries could make cyber incidents even more common. In 2021, cyberattacks on IoT supply chains affected 62% of organisations, further highlighting the need for robust security measures to protect consumer information.

Nevertheless, despite rising data security concerns, the IoT revolution remains well underway. The smart meter market is expected to reach $13.7 billion by 2024, with a compound annual growth rate of 6% from 2018. The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that 69% of meter installations in the commercial sector are smart.

IoT-Enabled Smart Metering

IoT is revolutionising smart metering, offering precise real-time data collection, improved energy efficiency and sustainability. These meters empower businesses to make informed decisions about their utility consumption.

As the underlying technology behind IoT smart meters continues to evolve, it will remain a driving force in utility resource management. However, data security and transmission reliability challenges must be addressed to fully realise its benefits.

To get your business started with smart metering, contact today. We provide NB-IoT connectivity for businesses in most EU countries, the UK and the USA. We’re currently building a nationwide LoRaWAN network in Germany and Malta while also providing customised LoRaWAN gateway setups for large-scale projects in other regions upon demand. With our extensive network of partners providing the physical solutions, Melita can equip your business with the end-to-end smart metering solutions it needs.

Zachary Amos


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