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Battle to connect wireless energy meters

19 июля 2010

A battle is heating up between leading telecoms companies for contracts to provide connections to Britain’s next generation of energy meters.

BT, Vodafone and Telefónica are expected to go head-to-head for contracts to provide wireless networks for “smart meters” that could play a significant role in cutting the UK’s carbon emissions.

A consortium involving BT will make its pitch on Monday to provide a nationwide solution to the challenge of connecting consumers’ smart meters to their energy suppliers.

BT said if the consortium was successful at winning contracts with the utility companies, the deals could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds over the coming decade.

The government has inherited a target from the previous administration of installing 47m smart meters in 26m homes by 2020.

The meters, fitted with information technology so they can send and receive instructions, will transform the way gas and electricity is sold.

Flexible time-of-day pricing will make it possible to charge consumers more at peak times, enabling energy suppliers to flatten out the peaks in electricity demand and ease the pressure to use the most expensive power stations, which are often the most polluting.

The meters will provide more reliable energy bills and end the need for estimates. They could also enable the use of “smart appliances” that switch themselves off when not needed.

The BT-led consortium is proposing to use a wireless solution to connect the meters to the energy suppliers’ computer systems.

BT claims the “long-range radio” solution will be superior to mobile phone networks partly because it relies on low frequency radio spectrum that can penetrate cellars, where meters are often found.

Olivia Garfield, BT’s strategy director, said: “It is vital that any solution is designed for ubiquitous coverage of homes and is thoroughly secure and resilient. We believe long-range radio is the only technology to offer nationwide coverage.”

The other members of the BT-led consortium are Arqiva, the media services group, and Detica, a technology consulting company owned by BAE Systems.

Vodafone’s UK business already has one multi­million-pound smart meter deal with Centrica, owner of British Gas.

Vodafone is providing wireless connections to smart meters that are enabling families to cut their utility bills by monitoring the energy they use.

Telefónica’s O2 UK subsidiary is also interested in similar smart meter deals.

Источник: Financial Times

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