The biggest feature of smart meters is their communication functionality. This functionality links the power supplier (the power company) and the consumer (the device in the home), and a variety of communication standards are used in different countries and regions.
In Japan, wireless multi-hop, 1:N wireless, and PLC are being considered for communication between the supplier and smart meter. For communication within the home (or building), Wi-SUN wireless communication, supplemented by power line communication (PLC), are the main methods employed.
In the US and Europe, Wi-SUN and PLC hold the dominant positions, while a variety of other methods such as wireless multi-hop, 2G or 3G mobile communication, and ZigBee® wireless communication are under consideration.
PLC (Power Line Communication) is a communication method using a power line. By using a power line as a communication network, system designers can reduce costs. For this reason, PLC is attractive as a communications method in smart meters (AMI), HEMS, BEMS and solar panel monitoring systems.
Sub-gigahertz (sub-GHz) wireless communications technology uses waves around the 920 MHz band. With the proliferation of the Wi-SUN Alliance's international wireless communication standards, sub-GHz wireless communications are being rapidly adopted by the market.