smartgrid worldwide growthA major shift in smart grid communications continues as electric, gas and water utilities are increasingly turning to public cellular networks to provide communications for smart grid infrastructure projects. Global annual service revenue from public cellular network nodes in smart grid applications will exceed $1 billion come 2020, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27%, according to a Pike Research report.

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications are a key aspect of smart grid systems. Pike forecasts that a cumulative total 73 million cellular M2M communication nodes will be shipped for use in smart grid applications from 2011 through 2020, according to Pike’s. “Public Carrier Networks for Smart Grids” report.

“Carriers and integrators have awakened to the unique opportunity of the smart grid. It is no longer just another general vertical market application,” vice president Bob Gohn was quoted in a press release. “With new pricing and service offerings specifically tailored for the large number of endpoints but relatively low aggregate data volume typical of grid applications, public cellular is becoming a real competitor to private utility-owned networks. The end result is a significant and growing monthly stream of revenue to the carrier, without taxing the carrier’s network resources.”

Europe is leading the drive to deploy smart grid infrastructure, a central aspect of its 20-20-20 plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 20% and have renewable energy resources supply 20% of its power needs by 2020, Pike says. Europe will lead world regions in terms of smart grid public cellular node unit shipments and revenue, as well as annual smart grid telecom service revenue out to 2020, the Boulder, Colorado-based market research firm forecasts.