UK meter specialist B4T to use Heliot’s Sigfox network for upcycled water meters – RCR Wireless News

Heliot Europe, Europe’s biggest Sigfox operator, has partnered with smart meter vendor B4T to offer Sigfox connectivity for the UK-based firm’s upcycled smart water meters. B4T’s Jellyfish range of meter devices track consumption and leaks in the water network; they can be retrofitted to manual water meters with its own Jellyfish BRIDGE technology to upcycle existing gear as ‘smart’, and enable asset monitoring and accurate billing.

The Jellyfish combination means water meters, traditionally read annually on ‘drive-by’ visits using short-range radio technology, can record information hourly and issue updates remotely. B4T claims to “record and compress” data for low-power transmission on IoT networks. It suggested the Sigfox-version of low-power wide-area IoT networking (LPWAN) overcomes “underground connectivity challenges posed by 4G, 5G, and Wi-Fi” options. 

It is pitching the devices with a 15-year battery life to utility companies, service providers, enterprises, and consumers – as a more cost-effective means to upgrade metering infrastructure in the UK. It stated: “By converting [weak short-range radio[ into reliable long-range Sigfox radio, data is transmitted more accurately and shares necessary insights… to make meaningful decisions about water consumption, leaks, [and] other… operational tasks.”

Alerts can be set up to inform field teams to address leaks in the water network; data can be used for billing and maintenance, it said. Alex Barter, managing director at B4T, commented: “We considered various… connectivity and concluded that low-power networks, such as Sigfox, offer a transformative cost/benefit model for water metering. Our sensors can collect water usage… and transmit and transform data using machine learning to provide… insights.”

The tie-up with Heliot Europe focuses on the UK market. A press note quoted Water UK, the UK trade association for the water industry, that over a fifth of the UK’s total water supply (three billion litres of water) is lost to leakage every day – compounded in environmental terms by the fact that three percent of the UK’s total energy consumption goes on shifting water around the country,. “The complete environmental impact is… impactful and noteworthy,” it said. 

Heliot Europe, a founding member of the 0G United Nations Association of Sigfox operators (currently numbering around 55 worldwide) runs Sigfox networks in Austria, Denmark, Liechtenstein, Germany, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the UK. It claims a cross-border low-power IoT infrastructure in the region, based on the Sigfox technology – as a “cost-effective alternative to the existing NB-IoT and CAT-M (LTE-M) solutions” from public mobile operators.

It quoted UK government figures that there are around 420,000 Kilometres (260,000 miles) of water mains in the UK, and said “many [are] ancient” and bound to leakage. Gareth Mitchell, partner manager for Heliot Europe in the UK, said: “IoT [is] transforming industries and solving problems globally. B4T’s Jellyfish smart water meter provides a prime example of how IoT… is able to transform an industry.”

Barter at B4T, said: “Using smart water meters enables water companies, and the like, to identify the sources of leaks in real time. They allow for a more rapid response to problems, reducing the volume of wasted water; and support better targeted investment. For consumers, a stronger understanding water usage habits will become increasingly beneficial too, as people strive to adapt their behaviour and reduce daily consumption.”