Choose the correct infrastructure
Choosing the right infrastructure is important to reach maximum functionality for minimum effort and cost. But the infrastructure can be used for so much more.
Measurement collection consists of three parts:
The most important component that turns something measurable into a number and that generates alarms
The link between meter and software
Interface between data and human that converts numbers into something billable
Water utilities, district heating and electricity
Within water utilities, equipment is required to be battery powered. In district heating and electricity, external voltage supply is often available. Therefore, the requirements differ.
Regardless of what is to be measured, open solutions should be the highest priority.
LoRa is completely open because you can change networks. NB-IoT requires more equipment to offer transparency. Wireless is on paper an open system but contains many hidden lock-ins.
Transparency in hardware
Some providers lock in customers. It can be tempting because it transfers responsibility to the supplier, but it means a lack of freedom of choice and a rising price picture when scaling up.
In order to meet the expected lifespan with battery-powered units, it is required that the collection has low energy consumption, and that the meters have good batteries.
For this, therefore, LoRaWAN is by far the best choice. NB-IoT draws much more energy and can therefore mean difficulties in reaching the sitting time. Wireless M-bus is also an option but has so many other disadvantages.
However, NB-IoT can work if you toll the margins.
Deep indoor coverage
When devices are located far underground (basements and wells), NB-IoT is the best option.
LoRa also works well but wireless M-bus
Who will build infrastructure?
Infrastructure can be offered via an overall solution where a single supplier takes all responsibility. It is the simplest but worst solution.
Infrastructure can also be built by a third-party provider. Then you can continue to put this out to competition.
Customers can also build their own infrastructure. It requires more work but provides more influence and lower costs.
LoRaWAN is normally the best option for battery powered devices. NB-IoT reaches better deep-indoors and is suitable for voltage-fed devices.
When the devices have battery power, LoRaWAN is normally the obvious choice. But then one should be prepared to combine it with NB-IoT for the hard-to-reach location.
When the devices have an external voltage supply, NB-IoT may be the most suitable choice, but then you should be aware that there is no guarantee that NB-IoT will be available during the time the devices are outside.
Wireless M-bus and other proprietary solutions are always too invasive an intervention on freedom of choice and openness.