Water utility uses cellular IoT tech to connect residential smart meters, provide more accurate bills.

Telefonica on Wednesday launched its first narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) project in Chile in partnership with a water utility.

The utility in question is testing connectivity management of a telemetry solution for residential smart water meters. End users will be able to monitor their day-to-day use and receive more accurate bills compared to bills based on estimated use.

The telemetry solution can also detect leaks, abnormal situations in the home, and water flows that are not being invoiced. It will also help operation teams provision water supply to customers.

Telefonica has tapped Huawei to upgrade its network to support NB-IoT, and Kamstrup to supply smart meters.

"We are proud to have united with Huawei and Kamstrup to launch this commercial pilot with narrowband IoT in Latin America. This affirms our commitment to using our network infrastructure to provide our clients with IoT solutions, as we adapt to each of our clients’ needs," said Vicente Muñoz, Telefonica’s chief IoT officer.

NB-IoT can provide coverage in hard-to-reach places, supporting two-way communication with large numbers of low throughput, low cost devices that consume very little power. It uses licensed spectrum, which holds the promise of assured reliability and quality.

Telefonica said it plans to extend the Chile pilot in the near future to more than 300 residential water meters, using NB-IoT running on its 700-MHz spectrum.