German telecoms incumbent Deutsche Telekom has teamed up with Itron, a US-based energy specialist, to provide smart-grid services in Europe as both companies continue their push into the fast-growing sector.
By incorporating Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) SIM cards in its GPRS-compatible meters, and using the German operator’s networks, Itron (Liberty Lake, USA) says it will be able to provide a complete service offering to utility companies in additional markets.
The two companies have already agreed on the deployment of an initial quantity of SIM cards.
“This collaboration will give our customers more options and will deliver real business benefits as they roll out smart-meter systems,” said Remy Brill, Itron’s vice president and managing director for EMEA Energy.
Besides the SIM card deal, the companies say they intend to cooperate on new business opportunities in the area of smart energy – including smart metering, smart grids and smart homes – in European markets.
“The smart metering industry is demanding end-to-end solutions for intelligent energy networks,” said Jürgen Hase, head of Deutsche Telekom's M2M Competence Center. “Together with Itron we can offer a complete M2M-based solution from hardware to managed connectivity, integration, roll-out and operations services.”
The growth of smart-grid technology in European markets is largely being driven by regulation requiring utilities to install smart meters in households and business premises.
According to research carried out by Berg Insight, Europe’s electricity operators and power suppliers will invest about €15.8 billion in the deployment of some 110 million smart meters over the next five years.
Even so, while nationwide rollouts are proceeding in France, Spain, the UK and a handful of other European countries, there is little momentum in Deutsche Telekom’s domestic market.
Unlike Europe’s other large economies, Germany has left the decision on whether to invest in smart grids up to the utilities, and take-up has consequently been disappointing.
Authorities are now considering whether legislation is needed to encourage a nationwide deployment and a decision is expected next year.
A government-mandated rollout would clearly provide a huge boost to Deutsche Telekom and Itron, besides other companies targeting the smart-grid opportunity.