Among the key learnings of the field test demonstrations in Germany so far was the realization that the coverage with LTE-signal in rural Germany was less reliable than expected.

InterFlex had to turn down a large number of interested pilot customers and project participants because signal strength at the individual smart meter location was insufficient. In many areas the signal was lacking altogether, in others the location of the smart meter inside the house made a poor signal even worse.

Power line communication (PLC) was identified as an alternative technology to provide the data-link between the Smart Grid Hub and the customer. To do so, PLC uses the power cable to transmit data with acceptable bandwidth. For InterFlex, Avacon equips a share of substations with this technology. These concentrator-substations collect data from customer local low voltage networks and then exchange data with the Smart Grid Hub via a stronger LTE-link.

Customers are equipped with state-of-the-art PLC-based smart meter gateways. As such, InterFlex pioneers the deployment of this technology in connection with the smart meter framework in Germany.

52 substations in the Lüneburg area have been equipped with PLC-technology and are currently being connected to the smart meter backbone. Starting in late June up to 30 additional customers can be equipped with PLC-gateways for testing and use case demonstration on PLC technology.