Ready for the smart meter future thanks to migration to 4G

The Aargau-based energy service provider Eniwa has successfully migrated its existing fixed network metering solutions for commercial customers to the 4G-enabled Enterprise IoT solution from Swisscom and also laid the foundations to proactively tackle the 2G replacement in the coming months. This provides it with a flexible basis for harmonising the metering solutions for all energy media as well as for the upcoming rollout of smart meters to residential customers.



Challenge

Eniwa is an energy service provider based in the Aarau region that supplies residential and corporate customers in around 30 communes with electricity, gas, heating and cooling, hydrogen, water, telecommunications and electrical installation services. In order to master the challenges of digitalisation and continuously increase efficiency, the company is pursuing a well thought-out innovation strategy. In addition to smart grid technologies for load management or a dense network of rapid charging stations for electric mobility, this also includes early entry into automated meter management. For the first generation of meters, a fixed network telephony technology was used. The second generation was based on 2G mobile communication technology. Both technologies had reached the end of their life cycles and needed to be replaced.



Solution

The new Energy Act, which entered into force at the beginning of 2018, laid down the rules for the use of smart meters in the private electricity sector. Eniwa used this as the starting signal for replacing the existing infrastructure with a long-term sustainable solution. In order to establish a uniform base for both the 2G-based meters and the fixed network installations, into which the meters of all other energy media can be integrated as well, Eniwa opted for a 4G-based IoT solution. Swisscom Enterprise IoT realised a private mobile network for the utility company via Secure APN As a result of this, the meters can be controlled securely and with extremely low latency via private IP addresses. On the other hand, the solution also includes a comprehensive connectivity management platform that significantly simplifies device management.



Result

Although the 2G communication modules could be replaced predominantly easily, the replacement of the fixed line installations in individual, remote buildings was somewhat more complex. However, Eniwa was able to rely on the support of Swisscom specialists. They carried out the necessary measurements and, with their expertise and extensive experience, found a practical solution for every case.

Today, Eniwa manages a total of 1400 digital counters of corporate customers and private solar power producers via Swisscom's cloud-based connectivity management platform. Eniwa is currently planning the rollout to residential customers, because according to the law, smart meters must be installed for 80% of the users by 2027. 4G IoT is to play an important role here. Whether or not 4G IoT will play a role depends on a number of factors, but Eniwa sees the solution 4G IoT as a possible variant.


Eniwa AG

> Industry: Power supply

> Headquarters: Aarau

> Employees: 345 (2017)





Reto Dambach

Head of Energy Data Management


Mr Dambach, why do you rely on mobile communication for metering and not on another technology?

"Five years ago, Eniwa carried out tests with PLC (Power Line Communication), which did not run satisfactorily. What's more, most other technologies are proprietary. In contrast, the open IoT standard is backed by a global industry. This guarantees us that further development will be driven forward over the long term, as well. For example, narrow band IoT, a technology that has been specifically designed for applications in rural areas and inside houses, is already in the starting blocks."

What made you choose Swisscom as a partner?

"The main criterion was network quality. However, the innovative strength that Swisscom has in the IoT sector was also important for us. It offers a mature and comprehensive platform, and it invests a lot in its ongoing development. As a customer, you can also feel this in the quality of advice provided. The specialists from Swisscom understand more than just the latest devices."

What are Eniwa's strategic goals with the new smart metering infrastructure?

"We have realigned ourselves in recent months. Instead of being organised into individual divisions such as electricity, gas or heating and cooling as before, we are now functionally organised and act as a single unit with all of our services. And this of course also affects metering. In order to achieve synergies and master digitalisation more efficiently, we intend to harmonise the different meter infrastructures for the various media. The 4G-IoT solution provides us with a flexible and powerful basis for this."



This product is used by Eniwa AG



Smart Metering

Smart metering offers public utilities in every sector a new option of interacting with customers and complying with regulatory guidelines.