Mobile giant Orange takes the plunge into the water business

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Veolia Water and European mobile giant Orange just launched m2o city, the first mobile carrier specializing in water metering.

Water metering measures water usage just as smart metering measures electricity usage. Nearly two-thirds of OECD countries meter more than 90 percent of households and these measurements can be used to bill for water services. Mobile networks can be used to communicate the meter data to municipal authorities.

While smart electricity metering may have grabbed all the headlines, water metering is becoming an increasingly hot topic. Less than 1 percent of the earth’s water is suitable for drinking. As the world’s population grows and becomes more urban, more than 3 billion people may suffer from water shortages by the year 2025.

It may seem surprising that Orange is launching an entirely new mobile carrier just for water metering. However, mobile carriers have been targeting  M2M (machine to machine) or “Internet of things” applications for some time. M2M applications gather data from huge numbers of sensors and devices and applications include automotive (see TomTom’s HD traffic), smartgrid, healthcare and environmental usages.

Veolia Water provides drinking water and wastewater treatment for municipal authorities and industry. It operates in 67 countries and provides water services to 100 million people.

Consumer electronics company LG launched its first water treatment solution last year. GE and Siemens have also been investing  heavily in water technology in recent years.

The characteristics of M2M traffic on a Telecommunications network are different to human-to-human or human-to-machine communications like voice and data. Sensors often send small amounts of data periodically, but potentially all at the same time, like meter readings. Some of the systems based on M2M data like smartgrid may be critical and even life-threatening, so high quality of service is essential. Therefore, networks need to optimized specifically for M2M applications.

Swedish mobile carrier Telenor previously launched a global mobile carrier specializing in M2M applications called Telenor Connexion.

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