10/7/2009 1:11:00 PM
Operators gear up for smart metering bid
Mobile operators are in talks with energy companies in a bid to corner the Government’s £1bn smart metering programme.
The mandatory programme will see smart meters fitted in every household and business across England and Wales from 2016, with the aim of cutting emissions. The meters will allow consumers to monitor the rate and cost of their energy output via their mobile phones.
Energy regulator Ofgem is currently trialling the meters in 17,000 homes. Energy giant EDF, which is trialling 3,000 meters as part of Ofgem’s programme, confirmed this week it has been talking to ‘a number of operators’ over its plans for smart meters.
An EDF spokesman said: ‘We have used mobile communications (GSM) as part of these trials with reasonable success,’ and expected that ‘one or two mobile communications technologies will be prominent’ in the smart meter programme.
O2 confirmed it is speaking to ‘all the big utility companies’ about smart metering. Telefónica Europe VP Mike Short told Mobile: ‘It is logical to look at smart metering as we try to move towards smarter homes. As part of Digital Britain, we are serving and taking more information to and from the home, be that video, data or voice, and we need to ensure adequate coverage.’
The meters will not only open up a new revenue stream but could also offer operators a firmer footing in UK households. They would allow networks to compete with fixed line and Wi-Fi offerings by setting up meters that act as home hubs using femtocells, the short range mobile phone gateways.
Strategy Analytics director of wireless practice Neil Mawston believes smart meters will bring operators new growth opportunities. He said: ‘With voice revenue and user penetration peaking, networks are looking for new growth areas, and smart meters offer them entrance into the machine-to-machine market in approximately 27 million households across the UK.’