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The plan is focused on three key areas – buildings, transportation, and industry. To drive the strategy, the EU is working towards the establishment of a Smart Grid which is an intelligent energy network, in collaboration between governments, businesses and citizens.

In Europe a number of pilot projects focused on transport, involving a consortium of technology, telecommunications and local energy companies, is currently underway. By collaborating together the consortia are developing an intelligent infrastructure for the large scale adoption of electric vehicles powered by sustainable energy. The projects use M2M to monitor and control electric battery charging and billing and to ensure the stability of the overall energy system. If successful, the projects will be extended to spread throughout the EU.

The EU regulations also require the availability of smart meters in all homes within member states by 2020 for electricity, this is certain to be followed by other utilities such as gas and water, as part of a broader emergence of the ‘smart home’ and the Smart Grid. M2M technology forms a key part of the development of smart meters, in enabling the provision of robust and comprehensive real-time data and analysis regarding energy usage and the capability to offer accurate and enhanced billing facilities.

With the EU compliance timescales driving this change, there are a number of key elements which a best practice M2M solution should include if it is to meet the demanding requirements of the utility customer and the regulator. First, it should offer a truly global footprint as key to delivering the network coverage required. Second, it should include a global SIM, which enables national roaming in order to ensure seamless coverage across all networks, irrespective of individual coverage. And finally, the SIM should be integrated as an industrial component – soldered into the meter or tracking box – rather than inserted as a separate SIM card. As a result, the meter can be installed anywhere and register automatically in the local network. Expertise of this kind is vital.

Vodafone Machine to Machine, Cap Gemini and Itron Inc recently won a joint contract with Italy’s leading gas supplier, Italgas to deliver and install a smart meter solution for 30,000 existing commercial and industrial gas meters. According to the Italian Smart Meter Directives (AEEG 155/08), Italgas will upgrade its installed metering base to meet the new regulatory requirements. Italgas will also be able to take advantage of the most advanced metering systems to improve services and customer engagement.

Smart metering is a key growth area for M2M technology and its accurate capture and delivery of data allows utility companies to use this information to run their businesses both efficiently and effectively. Vodafone Machine to Machine high-performance networks and M2M capabilities will not only help deliver smart services to smart businesses enabling them to meet new EU regulations - it will also increase the potential for better customer engagement.

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