The reasons for the wide variations in penetration for electricity, water and gas meters are different, partly demographic and partly market based. 85% of households have an electricity supply and almost all of these end points are metered. Of the 15% of households which do not have electricity, two thirds or nearly a quarter of a billion are in rural areas of the Indian subcontinent and Sub-Saharan Africa, with the balance in the rest of the developing world. In terms of population the numbers of people without access to electricity are about double the numbers of households, because the size of rural households in the developing world, especially in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East are double the size of households in the developed countries, around 5-6 compared with 2.5 or fewer persons per household in developed countries. The household penetration of piped water is considerably lower than for electricity and in not all countries and cities are endpoints metered.
The household penetration of piped gas depends on the utilisation of gas in a country. 101 countries use piped natural gas. Nearly all of these either produce their own or import it through pipelines. A few, principally Japan, Taiwan and Korea import LNG with tankers, since their isolation from gas fields and distance from pipe transport networks makes the cost prohibitive. Although manufactured city gas was more commonly used for lighting a century ago than electricity, electricity penetration and usage has risen uninterrupted for the last hundred years, with a large burst in the period from 1960 to 1980. By contrast, natural gas usage is more recent, starting as late as the 1980s and 90s in many countries. The consumption of natural gas will grow significantly in the next few years because gasification is increasing, notably in Russia and China, but also in some European countries such as Spain and Portugal, and in South America. This will drive growing demand for meters and the gas market will follow electricity in advanced metering. Another method of distribution which is growing to avoid investment is a pipe network is delivery to a central storage system by tanker.