First Electricity Meters Supporting DLMS Over LoRaWAN Start To Rollout


By James Blackman

Chinese manufacturer Wasion and French IoT software provider Acklio have introduced an electricity meter supporting Device Language Message Specification (DLMS) communications over low-power wide-area (LPWA) networking protocol LoRaWAN. The release follows the publication late last year by the LoRa Alliance and the DLMS User Association (DLMS UA) of the first specification for DLMS over LoRaWAN.

The LoRa Alliance and the DLMS UA signed a liaison agreement to define a new DLMS communication profile for LPWA technologies such as LoRaWAN in late 2019. The two organisations, representing the LoRaWAN community and the standardisation of DLMS for meter communications, respectively, have been seeking to drive usage of the DLMS application protocol and data model over LoRaWAN networks.

The DLMS UA was founded by utilities and meter manufacturers to develop and support a standard for smart meter data exchange. DLMS can be used for all energy types and various protocols. Its application layer is independent from the media layer, enabling use of a single application over various (and combined) protocols, including cellular, PLC, Zigbee, WMBus, and Prime-PLC.

DLMS is the first IP-based standard to be supported over LoRaWAN.

Writing in a blog post, Semtech explains: “This operation is handled by the adaptation layer using the technology of Static Context Header Compression (SCHC) that fragments DLMS messages and ensures reassembly over LoRaWAN networks, resulting in internet links that don’t break (rather than intercepting the payload from each IP packet).

“By providing these native DLMS messages over LoRaWAN packets, this approach ensures the reliability of DLMS services including FUOTA. Additionally, this approach bypasses the networking issues that would result from conversion of IP-to-LoRaWAN.”

Developers can now create new smart devices that support DLMS/Companion Specification for Energy Metering (COSEM) applications such as smart metering for electricity, gas or water; data exchange with private electricity vehicle charging stations; energy health and usage monitoring services of utility infrastructure; and new connected applications demanding a secure and reliable application protocol with a standardized data model.

Wasion’s new electricity meter is one of the first DLMS/LoRaWAN devices. The Chinese firm said LoRaWAN has become an “established solution” for smart metering. LoRaWAN is now featured among the standard network technologies for Advanced Metering Infrastructures (AMI), allowing utilities to collect consumption data and manage meter networks.

It said LoRaWAN brings benefits in “rural or large areas”, and is “being considered for full electricity deployments”. “Reliable, robust and cost-effective, it is becoming an increasingly popular choice for water and gas meter rollouts. Recent deployments have been proven at scale, demonstrating LoRaWAN’s implementation flexibility and performance, while ensuring a highly competitive TCO for utilities.”

SCHC pioneer Acklio has provided the implementation for DLMS over LoRaWAN. Wasion stated: “On one hand, Acklio enables LoRaWAN operators with the ability to port DLMS deployments, while improving the scalability of the radio technology for the metering industry. And on the other, it provides the software stack enabling the conversion of an existing electric meter design to LoRaWAN in record time. The integration is done at the communication module level, capitalizing on the same meter design for multiple connectivities.”

AMI product department deputy manager at Wasion, Karl Qin, commented: “Wasion strives to provide utilities with the latest innovations to implement solutions that best fit their specific requirements, including to reduce meter reading costs, save resources, and enhance customer service. By partnering with Acklio, we are offering customers a reliable and cost-effective connectivity option with interoperability with the entire DLMS/COSEM ecosystem.”

Chief executive at Acklio and chairman of the DLMS UA qualification committee, Alexander Pelov commented: “We are committed to Acklio’s mission to promote standards-based solutions in the IoT world, and delighted with this new step in the adoption of SCHC for smart electricity metering. As a highly innovative meter manufacturer with customers across the globe, Wasion is a valuable partner joining the growing ecosystem of DLMS over LoRaWAN players.”

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