back to article Stolen smart-meter SIM leads to outrageous 3G bill

Skeptics who think 3G data services can’t be used for volume downloads, think again: a Tasmanian woman has been jailed for racking up a bill of nearly A$200,000 on a SIM stolen from an electricity smart-meter. According to the Hobart Mercury the woman, Kylie Monks, used a SIM card from an Aurora electricity meter that …


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  1. Head



  2. Eddy Ito

    Doesn't make sense

    Why would a company put an unlimited 3G SIM into a device that has to transmit... what, maybe 1 KiB per month? Shirley... or is it Sheila, the smart thing to do would have been an arrangement for a limited data PAYG arrangement that was renewable every few years. FFS, it isn't like they were getting a family plan with an emergency mob for grammy, the usage would be pretty much fixed given the number of meters... oh yeah, fixed meters and frankly GPRS would work just fine.

    It's good I'm not a judge, I'd tell both companies to split the A$200k as a lesson on the cost of stupid.

    1. Neoc

      Incorrect assumption

      Most likely the Power company had a single account with Telstra to which thousands of SIMs were linked - *not* one account per SIM. (my wife and I have both our phone on the same monthly account, for example).

      The real FAIL, however, is for TELSTRA to have let the amount pile up so high without providing for even a simple phone-call or email to the power company to see why their usage was so out of whack. Hell, most banks do it these days - I've been on the receiving end of such a phone call when buying $2000's worth of computer parts using my debit card. ^_^

      1. Mark 65


        Like Telstra give a shit if a big company runs up a huge bill - it's guaranteed payment, not like taking Granny to court for $200k

  3. Mr Lodestone
    Thumb Up

    Be this a title?

    @ Eddy Ito,

    It's a shame you're NOT a judge, because that's full-on Solomonic.

  4. Rich 3

    Have you tried doing this?

    Finding somebody to talk to at Telstra who understood what a restricted APN was, and how they might set one up, probably taxed the patience of the staff at the electricity meter company to far, and they just threw standard retail SIMs into the meters.

  5. Aussie Brusader

    $200,000 wouldn't be that hard on Telstra

    Telstra is f*cking expensive for mobile data. Their coverage is good, but f*ck me, you pay for it.

  6. Renato

    HTTP anyone?

    If the smart meter used a (probably) off-the-shelf GPRS/3G modem, (probably) the meter uses off-the-shelf hardware too. I'd bet it also uploads power usage through the old and good unencrypted HTTP.

    Icon says the rest.

  7. Turtle_Fan

    Not quite...

    Actually, privacy authorities worlwide are pretty strict on this area.

    All communications are encrypted via SSL and all messages havve unique signatures (derived from the hardware profile of the meter) to prevent tampering.

    As I work for such a smart meter company, I'm astonished that while utilities request all sorts of features they end up not making use of them. Things like tying the SIMcard to hardware, restricting the domains it can access and a million others besides. All these drive costs for the meters yet utils seem not to be using them.

  8. david 12 Silver badge

    Paid for, and not even noticed.

    They buy and pay for a live network connection for their meter, and they don't even notice it's missing until they get the bill?

    They have live monitoring of their meter, and they don't even notice when it goes offline?

    Either that is stupid incompetence, or (I love this idea) perhaps somebody swapped sims, and the meter racked up a few dollars worth of sms reports on a pre-paid account...

  9. Paul 129

    Not surprised

    This lot blew $50M on a new billing system (theres only 500K people in Tasmania). They are the only company that is allowed to retail electicity to tasmanians at the moment, unless your really big, like a government. Oh yes the State government isnt too happy with them, they're still state owned. The State government ended up signing a contract with a queensland electricity supplier, as they will get electricity cheaper, than us poor mugs.

    Go figure...

  10. Cochituate
    Thumb Up

    SIM chip usage

    My company uses an obvious SIM chip embedded in my work badge. Makes me think of a revenge fantasy if they ever lay me off. Epic win (for a few weeks).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The guy was called Freewan not Freeman.

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