Smart grids – impact from an Internet and Telecoms perspective ..

I spoke at the LTE world summit in Amsterdam and see my blog : The holy cow of net neutrality: Should Operators be the only ones feeling guilty about net neutrality and are we confusing net neutrality with tiered pricing? at LTE world summit in Amsterdam

Tomorrow, I am spealing in Brussels at the 2nd Annual Internet of Things Europe 2010 – A Roadmap for Europe

We have an interesting panel on The consumer ecosystem- how will IoT re-invent our lives? and I am looking forward to the discussion especially AlertMe – a company I am tracking with some interest

Session 2: The consumer ecosystem- how will IoT re-invent our lives?

In terms of the consumer perspective, how will IOT empower citizens experience and individual’s capabilities? How will end user trust and personal experience drive the evolution of technological and application trends and architectures for the IOT? How could these new technologies affect our lives and well-being? How will ‘green as a driver’ affect IOT? What emerging innovations, technologies and market trends are being seen and are likely to emerge in the future?

10:40 – 10:55


Jim Morrish, Principal Analyst, Analysys Mason

10:55 – 12:00

Panel Discussion

Dr Thorsten Staake, Associate Director , Auto-ID Labs

Lorna Goulden , Creative Director, Philips Design

Ajit Jaokar, CEO, Futuretext

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, CEO and Co-Founder, Tinker

Pilgrim Beart, Director and Co-founder, AlertMe

The discussion below is from my talk at the session at Amsterdam but it also applies to the IOT discussion in Brussels. It explores Smart Grids from the perspective of the Internet and Telecoms players

Any comments welcome

Note I have a PhD / research interest in this topic. See The role of the Internet in future energy networks: Decentralization of Energy networks and insights for Smart Grids from Peer to Peer and Ubiquitous computing. Email me at ajit.jaokar at if you have some ideas for collaboration


We use the term ‘LTE’ loosely to mean next generation access networks.

There are three players – Web(Google, Microsoft); Telco; Energy

They have differing investment cycles: Years(web), Decade(telcos), DecadeS(Power)

Federal funding, Customer awareness and Green agenda are the main drivers to Smart Grids

A smart grid starts with a ‘smart meter’ which is capable of two way communications and lets the user and provider manage electricity consumption in a more granular way. If the customer’s power consumption can be captured in a granular manner, the provider can offer specials/ discounts to the customer. The added potential of smart grids arises from knowing data trends and also extend power management to other devices. These synergies fit well into LTE and home gateways and this explains Verizon’s emphasis on iPv6

Having said that, communication need not be directly with the energy company. It can be to the web via broadband which can be interesting

The Internet converts hierarchies into networks. It also tends to convert systems into platforms. This means, innovation is driven at the edge of the network and not the core.

Thus, when Power and Internet combine along with Telecoms, we have a disruptive scenario

We have the same old question: Who owns the relationship to the customer, who owns the metadata from the customer etc

Things get more interesting when we extend the network to the home devices. What gets wired(heating first), who controls the devices?(utility/ customer)


Verizon has a security focus(protecting data over the network), IP enabling metes(IPv6), partnership with smart meter maker Itron’s radio mesh communications.

AT&T takes a similar approach with partnership with SmartSynch and KORE Telematics .

Cellular networks could be a more common choice for utilities to carry information from smart meters or collection points back to their control rooms, (Dave Mohler, chief technology officer for Duke Energy.).

Initially, smart meters only help utilities cut the cost of sending workers out to check the meter but when integrated to home networks, customers can control devices like air conditioners, dryers, freezers and other appliances to curb consumption.

Broadband stimulus grants are tied to net neutrality rules, which means networks have to allow users to connect any device to the network. But this also leads to a huge opportunity because now Telecoms can extend their reach into the Smart Grid through MTM (machine to machine) applications which will generate a much higher number of network connections. These may have less ARPU (i.e. average revenue per user) but a greater number of actual connections with no need to subsidise devices. Hence, they could be profitable.

Co-operation is essential. “Ultimately, I think it would be great to see utilities and telecom providers cooperate to leverage exiting broadband and cellular networks to offer some sort of energy management service,” said Ben Schuman, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities. “But that would require an unprecedented degree of cooperation.”

Web systems like Microsoft Hohm – and Google Power meter:

- Designed to help track your home energy consumption through the Web

- In some cases(hohm), can make savings recommendations.

- Analyze actual energy consumption data from your energy provider

- Hohm will integrate with “Smart Plugs” that will enable detailed usage information about specific appliances, and the ability to control them remotely. “smart plugs,” are a sort of smart power strip which would be used with electronic devices.

- Business models could be information broker/ contextual advertising

- Google Powermeter works with AlertMe Energy kit which enables them to access their energy consumption data on Powermeter, (conceptually like Google Analytics). Alternatively, consumers can utilise Powermeter their energy provider has an existing partnership with Google.

- Home energy services are an example of the “Internet of things”


Notes: Originally these were taken from many sources and were designed as notes for my talk. If I have missed a source, please email me at ajit.jaokar at and I will link to it


  1. That’s all well ad fine from th telco and energy utility perspective, but how do you change the behavior of the users? Of all the talk about smart meters, there’s little said there. There’s a lot implied – for example, that people will be able to afford the connected mobile device(s) which would be able to address their end of smart meters – but we already see that the idea of data costs (speaking of unlimited packages from carriers) is a detrement to some areas of the population. These are the areas which have the worst energy practices, so what’ going to be their incentive to add an expense where its not attractive for them to do so? And will the telcos and/or the utility companies take the charge in training these folks how to use this new connected grid?