BT Root Smart Meters To Deliver Green Benefits

BT is proposing long-range radio as a communications solution to smart metering in the UK.

The telco, which has joined forces with wireless communications infrastructure company Arqiva and information intelligence firm Detica, says it has spent 18 months analysing the communications options available to meet the needs of the smart metering. Long-range radio has already proved successful in North America for smart metering and offers substantial benefits in Britain, believes BT.

"Smart meters will use telecommunications to deliver important environmental benefits and so BT is determined to be at the heart of the project," said Olivia Garfield, BT group strategy director.

Unlike the mobile phone network, long range radio "can provide nationwide coverage and dependable reception indoors," says BT's statement. "The fact it operates on dedicated licensed spectrum is also important as it is ideal in ensuring the security of supply and protection of consumer data while meeting the needs of the energy industry."

The envisaged solution will create a dedicated network specifically for the smart metering programme and use Detica's information and infrastructure security services and Arqiva's radio spectrum and infrastructure - the latter provides broadcasters with access to Freeview, for example. As national telco, BT will knit the network together.

The trio will use long-range radio technology called FlexNet from Sensus, which is already in use in other countries.

The Government believes that smart meters will play an important role in improving energy efficiency, reducing consumption and helping to meet environmental targets. Smart meters will also help utility companies improve the efficiency and control of their networks, and provide the ability to offer tailored pricing packages based on customer usage patterns.

Smart meters and a smart grid are also essential to the full operation of micro-generation and feed in tariffs.

As part of the EU's energy market liberalisation, 2020 has been set as the deadline for the deployment of smart energy meters across the majority of European homes and small businesses. Energy watchdog Ofgem is preparing to launch a prospectus outlining its vision for the introduction of smart meters later this month.

The Government is due to publish a prospectus this summer that will provide details about the roll-out of smart meters and the possible commercial opportunities. The BT-led partnership intends to review this and then formally launch their proposal in September.

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