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Contact a Customer Care Representative

We’ll get back to you within 24 hours or the following business day.

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Customer Care representatives are available by phone Monday–Friday, from 9am–5pm CST.

For sales & general inquiries
Municipal Water solutions: (800) 616–3837
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For product support
Municipal Water solutions: (800) 616–3837
Commercial & Industrial solutions: (877) 243–1010
Wyco Concrete solutions: (877) 243–1010

We're here to help
Contact a Customer Care Representative

We’ll get back to you within 24 hours or the following business day.

Prefer to call?
Customer Care representatives are available by phone Monday–Friday, from 9am–5pm CST.

For sales & general inquiries
Municipal Water solutions: (800) 616–3837
Commercial & Industrial solutions: (877) 243–1010
Wyco Concrete solutions: (800) 233-9926

For product support
Municipal Water solutions: (800) 616–3837
Commercial & Industrial solutions: (877) 243–1010
Wyco Concrete solutions: (877) 243–1010

June 8, 2021

What Utilities Should Know Before Upgrading to Cellular AMI

Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) provides utilities with significant benefits. Newer cellular-based, infrastructure-free AMI solutions leave network communications to the experts and allow utilities to be flexible in their approach to metering and monitoring needs.
Utility Neighborhood AMI Image
Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) provides utilities with significant benefits. Beyond billing data, it also delivers insights into water distribution systems and offers utility managers an important tool to deliver high-quality drinking water. However, this advancement has generated a significant obstacle for some utilities: infrastructure.

Until recently, the simplest way to communicate the information generated by AMI has been through a proprietary, fixed communication network that utilities had to install—or pay to establish—and then manage and maintain themselves. Not only is this expensive, but it also means utilities are essentially stuck with their technology vendor, regardless of future needs, because there is no incentive for the vendor to open the network.

The good news is that newer cellular-based AMI solutions are infrastructure-free. By leaving network communications to the experts, the technology enables long-range communication that can be rolled out quickly and allows utilities to be flexible in their approach to metering and monitoring needs.

How Cellular Solutions Can Help Utilities Save

Fixed networks have the same requirements as any communications network. It takes labor and a significant capital investment to get the network up and running. For water utilities, it could take six months to a year before AMI solution deployment can even begin, depending on the size of the service area. Then, a designated team must be ready to manage the network and perform preventative maintenance on every aspect of it, from hardware in the field to firmware updates. Utilities often find the cost and labor to manage fixed communication networks can rival what is necessary to manage their entire water distribution networks.

In comparison, cellular-based AMI technology eliminates the need for a freestanding communication network and provides the flexibility for utility managers to roll out a new system in a way that makes sense for them. For example, with a cellular-based system, utilities can start by focusing only on the commercial and industrial accounts that generate a majority of their revenue and then upgrade residential accounts on a staggered basis over time.

Before committing to an AMI solution, municipalities should evaluate the entire lifecycle cost of each. For a proprietary, utility-owned fixed network, this includes the capital costs and upkeep that will likely be needed over several decades. To perform an accurate comparison, it is simplest to use cellular-based AMI systems offered in a Network as a Service (NaaS) format.

Cellular has become the most resilient, reliable and universal means of communication in any industry currently available. Hundreds of millions of people across the U.S. rely on it to transmit information of all kinds. With the rise of cellular-based AMI solutions, there are fewer situations where a proprietary fixed-network system would make financial sense.

Avoid This System Upgrade Mistake

Focusing on a specific vendor technology before understanding the full scope of their objectives is a common pitfall for municipal officials. This often translates to investing in an AMI system simply for one billing read per month or quarter, which is the same information water managers were receiving (or could have received) from an automatic meter reading (AMR) system but at a higher cost.

To avoid this misstep, don’t view AMI as a technology decision. Instead, view it through the lens of “what problems am I trying to solve and what’s the best way to do that?” At the very least, this should include the benefits of:

  • Improving customer service processes
  • Finding labor efficiency gains (as workers who would perform meter readings or upkeep of a fixed network system can be allocated to other critical tasks)
  • Addressing non-revenue water/conservation efforts by getting more real-time insight into the distribution network
  • Focusing on resiliency planning, which is necessary to meet regulatory requirements and continue providing service during extraordinary circumstances

By performing a thorough evaluation, water utilities can select an AMI technology that will be a cost-effective, flexible tool to meet their needs well into the future. Discuss your options for AMI system deployment with our experts to determine what the best route is for your utility’s needs.

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We're here to help
Contact a Customer Care Representative

We’ll get back to you within 24 hours or the following business day.

Prefer to call?
Customer Care representatives are available by phone Monday–Friday, from 9am–5pm CST.

For sales & general inquiries
Municipal Water solutions: (800) 616–3837
Commercial & Industrial solutions: (877) 243–1010
Wyco Concrete solutions: (800) 233-9926

For product support
Municipal Water solutions: (800) 616–3837
Commercial & Industrial solutions: (877) 243–1010
Wyco Concrete solutions: (877) 243–1010