This special interest group covers mobile technologies and approaches that are helping utilities do business today. 

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Mobile Device Volatility

Utilities use smartphones in a few ways. Increasingly, their field service teams rely on the devices to input and examine information. With employees working at home, they need a way to keep in touch. The past year was a challenging one both for energy companies, mobile users, and suppliers but moving forward greater use of these systems seems likely.

The past year has been difficult. Utilities were leery of making investments in the devices given the uncertainty stemming form the pandemic. In addition, supply chain problems arose from social distancing rules as well as changing national tariffs. As the pandemic took its toll, smartphone sales went down by 5.9%, according to International Data Corp.

A Year End Boost

Those problems lessened in the fourth quarter as sales increased 4.3%, according to IDC. Apple drove much of that growth. The vendor shipped 90.1 million smartphones, the highest shipment volume from a vendor ever in a single quarter and a 22.2% boost from 2019 numbers. As a result, Apple moved from second to first place in the market, besting Samsung, which sold 73.9 smartphones.

The Apple iPhone 12, which was announced in October 2020, was a big hit, and one reason was it support for 5G network connections. This new wireless Wide Area Network (WAN) was designed to support edge devices, such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. With such capabilities, utilities place more intelligence on remote devices, like transformers, gain more visibility into device performance, improve grid availability, maximize their assets, and reduce expenses. In addition, the feature enables them to troubleshoot any remote employee’s 5G networks.

Smartphones have become a staple in many utilities’ technology arsenal. Many energy companies paused their purchases because of the pandemic. As the year closed, those issues seemed to be ebbing, and an influx of 5G compatible systems, such as Apple’s iPhone 12, are boosting use of such systems.

Paul Korzeniowski's picture

Thank Paul for the Post!

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