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The smart grid is the next-generation power grid with considerably improved efficiency, reliability, and safety through the state-of-the-art control and communication technologies. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is the crucial infrastructure in the smart grid to support two-way information flow, where Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications plays an essential role. In this paper, we study the smart grid M2M networks and focus on the optimal deployment strategy of M2M gateways. To indicate the unique characteristic of M2M networks in the smart grid, we propose a new metric the ratio of lifetime to cost (RLC) to evaluate the efficiency of deploying gateways. The simulation results indicate that our deployment algorithm can achieve the optimal number of M2M gateways. The proposed deployment strategy is able to achieve a balanced tradeoff between the network lifetime and the deployment cost.