We were right, mostly.
Trilliant is gunning for the U.K. market, where it already has a (big) toehold with British Gas, providing software and communications using Vodaphone.
Unlike the U.S., where Trilliant’s cellular-based product is inside the meter, the U.K. market requires a standalone product that sits next to the meter. Trilliant developed its Communication Hub and just announced a U.K. Interoperability Group around that hub, which has both cellular and ZigBee capabilities.
The group is separate from the U.S. Interoperability Group announced in early November, as the requirements for the U.K. are different -- but both groups are essentially the same concept tailored for each region. “This partnership program is to create a non-discriminatory interface so the utilities have confidence they can choose the best-of-breed [option],” said Rob Conant, chief marketing officer at Trilliant.
Trilliant has about eight partners so far in the U.K. group, although it only announced Onzo, Itron and Chameleon with the initial release.
Although there are double the number of partners in the North American market, the U.K. is definitely where the action is. Customer churn rate in the competitive retail utility environment is about 30 percent.
In the report Smart Grid in Europe, 2012-2016, GTM Research found that only around 110,000 smart meters have been installed to date, but that the U.K. government has called for all households to have dual (electricity and gas) smart meters by 2020 -- a figure that will mean about 47 million devices will be put in place in the coming decade.
The government also recently announced more than $7 billion in contracts to build out wide area networks for data services to support smart meters.
Conant said the public carriers were bidding for those contracts, although Trilliant is obviously standing by, ready to support the cellular companies in the smart grid space. With a communications network in place, Trilliant said that it’s all about choice for the utilities.
Just as utilities in the U.S. have been moving to more tailored, sophisticated smart grid plans that often involve various vendors, retailers in the U.K. want to be able to choose various pieces and know that they work together. For Trilliant’s vendor partners, Conant said it is all about giving them the tools so that they can tell utilities with confidence that their product is truly interoperable, rather than utilities having to find out that the interoperability wasn’t as robust as they had hoped.
Trilliant isn’t the only company trying to shore up its position in the U.K. market. Other U.S. companies, like Opower, are also jumping across the pond to get in on the action. And from there, Conant said it could be just a hop, skip and a jump into the rest of Europe.
“We do believe the U.K. market is going to be very exciting,” he said. “I think a lot of [European] countries will end up looking at the U.K. [utility market] and saying, 'I want that.'”