From aging infrastructure and coping with natural disasters, to an increased desire to incorporate renewables and optimize the network, utilities and communities continue to adapt to the macro effects in play today. Now more than ever, we have a collective opportunity to find new ways to innovate and demonstrate resiliency through technology.

In the midst of these times, the pace of analytical and technological advancement has continued to increase, and there are early indications that the impacts of the pandemic may be positive for the energy sector in the long-term. Utilities and cities are seeing first-hand the importance of employing modern communication networks and technologies like distributed intelligence to help understand and respond to unpredictable conditions.

To explore these trends, Itron recently collaborated with Zpryme to ask leading utilities and cities around the world about the role that Industrial IoT (IIoT) and other networking technologies will play in their modernization strategies.

Here are the top five trends we found:

  1. 72% of respondents report that improving grid resiliency is the main driving force behind digital modernization of network infrastructure.
  2. 64% prefer RF mesh networks for traditional grid applications like AMI. Public cellular is expected to complement mesh as availability expands.
  3. 90% of utilities and cities agree they will need advanced networks for IIoT applications, but only 28% feel they are currently ready.
  4. More than 50% of respondents expect that IIoT networks will enable faster, more responsive grids and improved data-driven decision making through capabilities like distributed intelligence, which features peer-to-peer collaboration between edge devices.
  5. New advancements in IIoT technology are enabling more real-time visibility and control for highly integrated use cases like DER’s and EV’s. Now is the time for utilities and cities to innovate new commercial models and take the next steps in digital transformation strategies.

With an intelligently connected IIoT network, communities can be equipped to better understand, prepare and respond to unforeseen events. A network that is designed to leverage the right combinations of many communications technologies – such as RF mesh, Wi-Fi, cellular, fiber and PLC –optimizes performance, improves security and is more cost-effective to support a diverse range of use cases in energy, water and smart cities.

Download our Top 5 Network Trends Infographic or dive deeper into our research in our new interactive infographic regarding utilities’ and cities’ network vision and investment strategies for the next decade.


Laura Wright
Senior Marketing Communications Manager - Itron
Laura Wright serves as senior marketing communications manager for Itron’s Networked Solutions and Smart Cities group where she works closely with product management, marketing and sales to support go-to-market strategies for Itron’s global portfolio of network communications products and solutions. She brings more than a decade of experience in the utility and cleantech sectors of the energy industry, with a focus on developing multi-channel marketing strategies to commercialize telecommunications infrastructure, IoT devices, energy efficiency solutions, and consumer-facing applications. Laura studied at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Marketing.