SmartReach consortium formed to accelerate delivery of Britain’s smart meter program


Olivia Garfield,
Group Strategy
Director, BT
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — October 22, 2010 – British telecoms giant BT, communications infrastructure and media services company Arqiva, and information collection and management company Detica have launched a smart metering consortium SmartReach, with a plan that could accelerate the delivery of a nationwide end-to-end solution.

SmartReach proposes a communications service that incorporates the highest standards of security and resilience that will embrace the learning and assets of interim solutions.

“SmartReach believes the program to deliver smart meters to domestic and non-domestic consumers in Great Britain can be simultaneously accelerated and de-risked while delivering substantial financial and carbon benefits,” commented BT group strategy director Olivia Garfield. “Our analysis led us to conclude that a secure nationwide long range radio-based solution was the only technically and commercially viable way of ensuring that all consumers benefit from smart meters.”

SmartReach recommends the adoption of a nationwide end-to-end solution based on a single network from day one, which would result in cost savings with a mixed portfolio of service provider contracts. Taking a fragmented approach to the communications network may achieve the first 70 percent of households satisfactorily, but risks leaving a potentially insurmountable commercial challenge of reaching the remaining 30 percent.

SmartReach further recommends that the procurement of service provision should start in early 2011, in order to accelerate the commencement and conclusion of the service provider procurement process. In addition security must be built-in from the ground up, in order for consumers to be satisfied that their data is adequately safeguarded.

Smart Reach also notes that while the initial focus is on smart meters for electricity and gas, the communications network should be also able to support both water meters and associated smart grid applications with minimal additional investment. Finally, given that smart meters and related smart grid applications are vital to the economic and environmental fabric of Great Britain, this infrastructure should be dedicated to the task, and should be classified as “critical national infrastructure.”