Connecting technology – LPWA built-in meter

Integration of the gas and water service infrastructure with mobile phone communication network will begin soon.


With the development of IoT technologies, various things will be connected to the Internet Water meters and gas meters, key products of Aichi Tokei Denki Corp., are not exceptional. For stable and sustainable supply of water and gases as limited resources, it is now required to be able to collect current usage data instantly and analyze it using AI.

Of the LPWA technologies for IoT wireless communication, a technology we introduce here is NB-IoT, a communication method using a mobile phone technology called cellular system.
* LPWA (Low Power Wide Area) is a wireless communication technology for IoT devices to cover wide area with low power consumption.

Connectable anywhere in urban and local areas across the country.

NB-IoT enables the use of LTE network in mobile phones and covers 99% of the population. In other words, IoT communication is available in any place where a mobile phone can be used even in less-populated areas, as well urban areas.

Connectable anywhere in urban and local areas across the country.

Connectable even in a more sever environment than mobile phones.

NB-IoT equips 20 dB coverage extension function in comparison with the LTE of existing cell-phone. It adopts narrow band of transmission frequency and repetitive transmission technology of same data.
Thus, stable communication is possible even the meter installed in the severe environment where it is buried in the underground, placed in secluded space in the building or others.

Connectable even in a more sever environment than mobile phones.

NB-IoT is connectable even in case of a disaster.

To prepare for disasters, communication carriers implement "enhancement of the power supply of corresponding base stations", "formation of multiple transmission routes" and "decentralization of important facilities". Accordingly, even in the event of a disaster, it is possible to know whether water or gas service is available and status of use in public facilities used as a shelter, hospitals, etc.

NB-IoT is connectable even in case of a disaster.

Voice of engineer

Aichi Tokei Denki has been paying attention to the technology of NB-IoT since October 2016 although it had not been clarified when to start communication service using NB-IoT in Japan. We consider that it would serve as an effective communication method for water and gas meters.
Since we took an early lead in collecting information from domestic communication carriers and communication module manufacturers, we succeeded in development of a water meter provided with NB-IoT communication function for the first time in Japan.

■Overseas information collection

We began to collect information, there was little information about NB-IoT in Japan and we did not know what to start with. Then, with cooperation of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., who originally developed NB-IoT, we visited their Shenzhen head office and Shanghai laboratory. Since we could directly know the technology of NB-IoT, we strengthened our confidence that we have chosen the right way and felt strongly that we want to use this technology in Japan as soon as possible.

■Evaluation in limited facilities

The first item we developed was a water meter supporting NB-IoT communication. Since the communication service was not yet started, facilities and locations that allow for evaluation were limited. Then we visited the laboratories where NB-IoT was available each time, when we produced a prototype. Sometimes, evaluation did not progress as scheduled and it took several days to finish a task that should have been finished in a single day. We are deeply impressed that the first completed water meter has come out by accumulating the experimental result with meticulous coordination and continuous efforts.

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