classic | mobile


SA Instrumentation & Control Buyers' Guide


Satellite technology enables smart metering project
October 2017, Industrial Wireless

Benton County is in Northwest Tennessee, bordering the western branch of the Tennessee River and often referred to as the gateway to Middle Tennessee. Aside from the city of Camden, the only other largely populated areas are the agrarian communities of Big Sandy and Holladay.

The county’s electricity requirements are met by Benton County Electric System (BCES), whose 38 employees work to deliver power to more than 10 000 customers. BCES’s philosophy is to offer fair and equitable rates for all. To accomplish this, it began an initiative five years ago to install automated metering infrastructure that would collect consumption data every fifteen minutes. Having near-real time access to this data would allow BCES to respond to customer needs, expedite engineering analysis, and provide holistic data of the electric system for a cost-based rate design. The company would be able to connect and disconnect services, monitor power outages across the county and offer new prepaid services. Moreover, reducing its reliance on manual meter checks saves countless travel hours for BCES’s staff.

The company faced several challenges in rolling out its automated metering infrastructure due to the patchy and unreliable cellular coverage typical of rural and remote locations. Scott Owens of BCES explains: “We initially adopted a hybrid connectivity model for our meters, connecting our collectors on a fibre optic network in certain areas, and private cellular networks in others. However, there were gaps in the coverage meaning that some isolated meters still had to be read manually, draining time and resources. We needed a connectivity solution that would better enable us to utilise the integrated automated metering infrastructure.”

The solution

BCES engineers set about finding the right partners to provide a reliable alternative for their existing connectivity methods. They chose Network Innovations, a key partner of Inmarsat, and a leading provider of BGAN M2M satellite communication services.

Powered by Inmarsat’s global 3G L-band satellite network and optimised for lower bandwidth and throughput than the standard BGAN offering, with a minimum billing increment of 1 kilobyte, BGAN M2M provides a reliable, IP-based real-time connectivity service that seamlessly integrates into any network. It supplies a reliable, always-available service and connects monitoring and control applications in remote, unmanned locations, giving full visibility and management of dispersed assets across an entire operational area.

“We listened to and fully understood Benton County Electric’s unique challenges and goals. Our extensive experience working with BGAN M2M and designing solutions for the utility industry, ensured the project was a success,” said Eric Verheylewegen, vice president global land sales at Network Innovations.

The results

With a fully-reliable network in place, BCES has been able to complete the rollout of its automated metering infrastructure. This has enabled the successful implementation of a fair and equitable rate design for every customer. The network has also ensured the success of prepay services, which reads/disconnects/connects meters daily, giving customers more choices and information than ever before.

Owens says that the Inmarsat service has given them the connectivity and cost needed to complete the project.

“Connectivity is the key to everything we do,” he adds. “We don’t need a super-fast network, but we do need a stable and reliable service. The assistance we received when implementing the BGAN terminals from Network Innovations was outstanding and appreciated in a small company such as ours. The service provided the foundation we need for our automated metering project, which has saved us time and money, and enabled us to improve the experience of our customers.”

Inmarsat’s BGAN M2M solution continues to serve reliably and efficiently, providing BCES with the peace of mind that meter data is always being collected. The utility plans to add to their number of BGAN terminals in Benton County, which promises to bring further benefits to the county’s residents, as it continues to develop its integrated intelligent grid.

Key benefits of Broadband Global Area Network Machine-to-Machine (BGAN M2M):

1. Performance: standard IP at a rate of up to 448 Kbps with a low latency from 800 milliseconds.

2. Reliability: operates over the Inmarsat L-band global satellite and ground network, with 99,9% availability.

3. Easy to integrate: simple for field teams to set up, integrate and maintain without technical expertise or training.

4. Cost-effective: low-cost terminal, low data rate plans with no reconnection fees.

5. Enhanced support: free firmware upgrade over-the-air.

6. Easy to manage solution: remote terminal management, debugging and configuration options.

For more information contact Jonathan Sinnatt, Inmarsat, +44 20 7728 1935,,

Share via email     Share via LinkedIn   Print this page

Further reading:

  • Configuring secure wireless LAN access to the machine network
    November 2017, Phoenix Contact, Industrial Wireless
    The completely networked machine is at the centre of digitalisation and the concepts of Industrie 4.0. But how can such a highly communicative application be designed securely? With the wireless module ...
  • ­WirelessHART’s application potential
    November 2017, Pepperl+Fuchs, Industrial Wireless
    The open standard based on the HART 7 protocol ensures that sensors from different manufacturers can be integrated into the wireless communication platform without restriction via WirelessHART adaptors ...
  • Emerson introduces wireless gas monitor
    November 2017, Emerson Automation Solutions, Industrial Wireless
    Rosemount 928 extends toxic gas coverage for difficult-to-access applications.
  • Wireless telemetry gives better control of irrigation systems
    November 2017, Industrial Wireless
    A critical component of farm operations, irrigation systems ensure regular water distribution to crops using a system of pumps, piping and sprayers. As water becomes a more scarce resource and affects ...
  • Reaching out to remote locations
    October 2017, Industrial Wireless
    Process knowledge is valuable, but without measurement there is no accurate knowledge, only speculation. Companies are increasingly being forced to measure process variables that are difficult to reach ...
  • RS Components introduces wireless access point
    October 2017, RS Components SA, Industrial Wireless
    Phoenix Contact’s wireless module enables Ethernet communication across a wide range of industrial applications.
  • Measurement technology combined with telemetry
    September 2017, WIKA Instruments, Industrial Wireless
    The intelligent combination of measurement technology and telemetry opens up new possibilities for process optimisation.
  • Efficient parkade lighting for Centurion Mall
    September 2017, Industrial Wireless
    Magnet Energy has assisted many leading property groups in South Africa with the design and installation of lighting systems for shopping malls, offices, hotels and industrial applications. The company’s ...
  • How does telematics actually work?
    September 2017, Industrial Wireless
    According to Gartner’s IT Glossary the word telematics is a merger of tele and matics – short for ‘telecommunications’ and ‘information’, and one of its core functions is to record information about vehicles ...
  • Yokogawa introduces ProSafe-RS SIL2
    September 2017, Yokogawa South Africa, Industrial Wireless
    Wireless gas detection system offers a total solution including consulting and engineering.
  • Wireless energy sensor for monitoring electrical assets
    September 2017, RS Components SA, Industrial Wireless
    RS Components has announced availability of the PowerTag wireless energy sensor from Schneider Electric, which is designed to monitor miniature circuit breakers (MCBs) and other electrical panel devices. ...
  • IWLAN infrastructure ensures communication in hot rolling mill
    September 2017, Siemens Digital Factory & Process Ind. & Drives, Industrial Wireless
    A Vietnamese steel group is building an integrated steel plant south of Hanoi, the largest new construction in the steel industry. The hardware and software required for warehouse management and material ...

Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual


    classic | mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.