Cellular, radio to illuminate smart street light market

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Radio frequency and cellular technologies will eat into the dominance of power line-based smart lights, with the total installed base set to grow from two million to 40 million by 2019, new research has claimed. 

ABI Research said the majority of smart lighting solutions are connected by Power Line Communication. However, during the next few years radio frequency solutions will increase to connect two-thirds of all smart street lights by 2020.

Cellular connections will also gain market share as they become more independent from the electrical network and gain the ability to connect without using additional gateways, the report said.

ABI cites the likes of 802.15.4, ZigBee, and 6LoWPAN as examples of radio connectivity on smart street lighting, with cellular solely meaning infrastructure connected via 2G, 3G or LTE.

ABI said the market will be made up of a combination of all three different types of connectivity. Andrew Zignani, Research Analyst, said: "Alongside the energy savings, lifespan, and quality of light improvements that LEDs offer, the enhanced controllability of this technology through the adoption of intelligent networking solutions has the ability to revolutionise the way cities utilise their street lighting infrastructure in order to deliver an attractive, sustainable, and safer living space."

He added: "Though each connectivity solution has its own advantages and disadvantages, due to the vast structural and regional complexities in street lighting infrastructures, a hybrid approach that incorporates a combination of PLC, RF, and cellular technologies, depending on various circumstances and project scale, will need to be adopted in order to ensure the most widespread, reliable, and cost-effective coverage."

Zignani said lights are increasingly becoming the foundation of a wider smart city network, overcoming initial barriers to entry such as high costs, low initial returns and a fragmented ecosystem.

He said: "When upgrading to LED street lighting, city managers may be reluctant to spend the extra funds required on a controlling system, unless this is positioned as a foundation for further smart city development. Integration with other aspects of the smart grid can considerably strengthen the case for networked control adoption.

"The transition towards IPv6 connectivity solutions will allow greater flexibility in future upgrades and extensions to the smart city network, enabling different organizations, suppliers, and communications methods to integrate together and form a more intelligent, resilient, and sustainable city infrastructure."

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