back to article Some smart meters won't be smart at all once 2/3G networks mothballed

Months after being quizzed by a committee of cross-party MPs, the UK government is still failing to clarify ways to support the substitution of millions of smart meters that will become obsolete when 2G and 3G networks are switched off. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) reviewed the rollout of smart meters, a project beset …

  1. b0llchit Silver badge
    Megaphone

    newer != better

    ...but the alternative is a return to sending round humans to read the meter...

    I'm rather sure that significantly fewer than 9% of the meters were "unread" when humans were in charge of the readings. Not that bringing back the human reader will solve all problems, but the failurism and obsoletism market in technology does sometimes make me think why it is a good idea to use "advanced" technology when simple solutions do the trick very well and perform better.

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: newer != better

      And it's not as if there haven't been improvements in the efficiency of manual reading..

      The customer (or the meter reader if an attendance is deemed necessary) simply snaps a picture of the meter and uploads it to be processed automatically.

      A very simple Computer Vision problem solved decades ago, is one of the few sorts of things which modern "AI" is pretty good at.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: newer != better

        Given the world of smart meters, there is no need to actually take a picture; a mobile 2/3g base station should be able to establish a connection long enough to upload readings and download charging changes. Obviously, real-time or more dynamic tariffs and usage shaping is out of the question.

        1. adam 40 Silver badge

          Re: newer != better

          Interesting idea, but you have to stay in range until the meter camps on your basestation. Once it's been sitting with no signal for months, this could take tens of minutes per meter.

          A human home visit usually takes 2-3 minutes.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: newer != better

            If it came to that as a solution, the "mobile base station" only needs to sit in a street or housing estate for maybe at most, 30 mins while all the nearby meters connect and update as opposed to 2-3 mins at each house plus the time it takes to get to each house and leave a "while you were out" card in many case or knock/ring and wait for a resident to answer the door. The mobile base station should have either an onboard database or a link back the HQ and know exactly which meters, by serial number are in the area and be able to check off a list of all those which responded correctly, responded incorrectly or didn't respond at all.

            IIRC, another scheme mooted years ago, maybe actually piloted, was radio based meters and the plan was a van would drive around the area collecting meter readings. Then someone came up with the idea of "smart" meters on the phone network. I bet the former would have been cheaper to roll out and not be worrying about technology debts and obsolescence!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: newer != better

              For efficiency maybe they could build that functionality into the TV Detector Vans, which would be easy to implement since Crapita operate both TV Licensing and the meter reading operation. :-)

              ^ smiley, for the avoidance of doubt.

              1. charlieboywoof

                no need to check our licence

                we stopped paying for that rubbish years ago.

              2. theblackhand

                Re: newer != better

                The real beauty of this plan is that the Venn diagram for the two groups is probably a single circle.

            2. The man with a spanner

              Re: newer != better

              If the proposal is to drve to an area and harvest the meter readings the obvious method for doing this would be to commision the post office as they cover 100% of the country on a regular basis.

              Apart from the equipment cost the collection is essentialy free.The kit could be shared by many vans, posibly clamping the reading reciever box to the roof of the van.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: newer != better

                Yeah but the equipment could end up in the wrong hands...you're essentially putting a stingray out on the back of a Post Office van...the government will love this of course because they will have thousands of post office vans that can be used for eavesdropping.

                A lot of these devices aren't restricted to just 2G/3G and given that the public will never see the devices and be able to scrutinise them, there will always be doubt as to whether they're secretly being used for illegal wiretaps.

                1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
                  Devil

                  Re: newer != better

                  You have the choice of wrong hands:

                  - our capitalist overlords

                  - the government

                  - Royal Mail

                  1. collinsl Bronze badge

                    Re: newer != better

                    And what's the difference between those again? I can't see one...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: newer != better

            You also have to grapple with the fact that a lot of the devices that provide this functionality also tend to support 4G, so you'll be putting out an army of people with kit that can be used for snooping, eavesdropping etc...very high risk.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: newer != better

          "a mobile 2/3g base station"

          They're not switching them off just because they can. They're switching them off so the frequency range can be sold to someone else and not left empty. A mobile 2/3g base station is not going to be popular.

        3. Barrie Shepherd

          Re: newer != better

          The reason 2/3G is closing is to release the spectrum for other services - I don't think carriers will be happy with mobile BTS roaming the street creating interference with their services. And while a mobile BTS can liven up the meter - maybe - there still needs to be the switching network emulated to allow the transmission of data - I know that you can have a GSM in a Box solution but managing IMSIs etc is a problem.

      2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: newer != better

        Requirement: The customer simply snaps a picture of the meter...

        Implementation: The meter has a camera and takes a selfie...

        1. Alumoi Silver badge

          Re: newer != better

          And sends that picture over ...?

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: newer != better

            ...Carrier pigeon.

            Given how well the current scheme was envisaged and has been implemented, we may have had a narrow escape.

          2. FIA Silver badge

            Re: newer != better

            And sends that picture over ...?

            TikTok.

          3. mikejames

            Re: newer != better

            Simple. It takes a Polaroid snap and the customer posts it to the Utilities provider...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: newer != better

          Has anyone here ever looked at their smart meter? A lot of them can be fitted with wifi and/or have ethernet (some already have it, it's there, you just need to be a brave boy and take some covers off)...it would be entirely feasible to roll out a simple box that plugs into the ethernet that works on 4G. Some older meters don't have this functionality, but they can be replaced.

    2. Badgerfruit

      Re: newer != better

      If it wasn't all about profit, then I am sure we would still have meters read by humans. But it is. It makes not a jot of difference what you and I think since they're training machines to replace us anyway.

      Sit back, enjoy the ride and if you don't have a big supply of tinned goods and a mechanical tin opener now, get it. Maybe a gun and ammo or something for close quarters.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: newer != better

        Maybe a gun and ammo or something for close quarters.

        I can't afford a gun. All I've got is a six-inch nail sellotaped to the end of a stick, which I use to keep political candidates away from my door.

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: newer != better

          > I can't afford a gun. All I've got is a six-inch nail sellotaped to the end of a stick, which I use to keep political candidates away from my door.

          You sound hard as nails...

      2. Norfolk N Chance
        Go

        Re: newer != better

        Profit = Income - Expenditure

        In fairness if it was just about real profit then we'd still have the old, perfectly working meters.

        I suspect it's our insatiable curiosity and desire for new shiny things, expertly catered for by ruthless sales departments. Permanent Secretaries and Government ministers seem particularly susceptible to this.

        Oh - back to profit then!

        Luckily for the power suppliers (UK speaking, but probably similar elsewhere) they can just shove the expenditure back onto the customer, so we can continue to pay for them to blunder on.

        And with the way the daily standing charge is progressing, I doubt anyone will have any money left for the tinned goods and personal security.

    3. Tron Silver badge

      Re: newer != better

      I haven't got a smart meter. I don't want one. I don't need one. It won't make any difference at all to the energy I use. I type readings into a website every month. It works.

      The whole project was a disgusting waste of cash based on the false premise that it would reduce consumption.

      Government x Tech = disaster.

      1. NeilPost

        Re: newer != better

        It’s also about telemetry and gaining an appreciation for consumption patterns across the country to help with load balancing.

        1. SundogUK Silver badge

          Re: newer != better

          And to remotely control usage when the inevitable brownouts start happening.

    4. NeilPost

      Re: newer != better

      I never ever understood why Smart meters - as primary connection method - never just hitched up to your broadband. Broadband access is around 95% in the UK.

      Even something shared like BT WiFi/Openzone which there is a reasonable possibility you may just about see from your house.

    5. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      Re: newer != better

      The last time our meter was read the guy said they also have to do an eyeball check to see if there is anything unsafe with the installation.

      1. NeilPost

        Re: newer != better

        What that they - or a subby - probably installed ??

        LOL.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Facepalm

    So, smart meter joy is continuing

    This train wreck keeps on derailing, apparently. That's exactly how it was programmed from the start.

    Now, all those people who didn't want anything to do with 'em are going to have the joy of watching the technician come back and do it all over again.

    Planned obsolescence at its finest.

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

      My energy company has started to bug me as my old spinning wheel leccy meter is outside its certification date. I wonder how long I can just ignore them?

      The entire smart meter thing has been a farce from the very start. The initial rollout of type 1 meters that were locked to the supplier was just so stupid. And the carefully worded claims that smart meters will 'help you save energy' with the caveat way down the page that all it does it let you see your power consumption and it is up to you to actually take action.

      1. unimaginative

        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

        "And the carefully worded claims that smart meters will 'help you save energy' with the caveat way down the page that all it does it let you see your power consumption and it is up to you to actually take action."

        That is not entirely true. They allow you to adjust your consumption to dynamic surge/discount pricing periods. Not something I am keen on coping with, but its coming.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

          It is still up to you to do that. It is all completely mandraulic.

          I believe Octopus has/had some IFTTT functionality but no other supplier does. And even then you need to be a bit of a home automation nerd to use it. It isn't like the old economy 7 where the circuit was only live during the off peak period.

          What they are relying on is customers not changing their behaviour and falling foul of the surge pricing.

          1. cyberdemon Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

            I think what is coming is "limit pricing" whereby your smart meter switches you off when the price goes above what you have set as your limit..

            People tend to forget that ALL smart meters have a remotely operable contactor that can be used to disconnect you for a variety of reasons.. E.g. you have been switched to prepayment mode (with no need for a warrant), or there is a load-shedding event i.e. if the grid frequency (nationally) or voltage (locally) are too low due to excess demand / shortage of supply, and you are deemed to be an "optional" customer, or there has been a cyberattack and Putin switched you off..

            I'll stick to my old fashioned electromechanical meter, thanks

            1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

              Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

              People tend to forget that ALL smart meters have a remotely operable contactor that can be used to disconnect you for a variety of reasons..

              Or don't or didn't know because electricity suppliers and others lied about that. I was explicitly lied to that meters couldn't disconnect a supply.

              I did wonder how they did it. It seems the favoured method is a motor driven cam which can rotate, will open and close adjacent 100A-plus contacts. That allows the motor to be powered down once the task is completed.

              I will likely be forced to accept a smart meter once they adopt tariffs which have discounts for those; which, in reality, will be significant punishments for not having one.

              1. bonkers

                Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                The ones I worked on, which have sold millions, used a magnetically-latching relay.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

              The grid operator has ways to disconnect portions of load now. Having it as the meter is just more granular than is currently supported for the small customers. Pro tip if you don't want to be subject to rolling black outs in an emergency: be on the same part of the grid as the local firehouse.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                "Pro tip if you don't want to be subject to rolling black outs in an emergency: be on the same part of the grid as the local firehouse."

                Unless you have a "smart" meter and they can switch you off anyway since they can turn off all the consumers without affecting "important" customers because they no longer need to turn off whole grid sections. That's one of the points of "smart" meters.

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                "be on the same part of the grid as the local firehouse"

                Or hospital.

                1. collinsl Bronze badge

                  Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                  Hospitals tend to have generators though, fire stations for the most part don't (except portable ones they can take to scenes etc)

            3. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

              > I think what is coming is "limit pricing"

              Given the level of debt currently ie. numbers of people struggling to pay, I suspect the energy companies will be wanting more people on prepay/PAYG, this also nicely gets rid of the centralised contract billing system and removes the debt the energy companies are currently having to manage…

              Another trend/response has been to increase standing charges which have the effect of reducing the billing significance of “small” variations in dynamic energy usage (eg. Boiling a full kettle rather than just the amount of water needed for a single cup).

          2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

            I've posted this here before - you can get MQTT integration easily by purchasing a Hildebrand Glow display. I can confirm the MQTT output works nicely - a message every 10s from the local device, as far as I can tell no internet connection required. £90 or thereabouts last I checked, and works with any supplier.

            Obviously they should all work like this and it could be better, but it's probably the best solution we currently have for home integration.

            1. that one in the corner Silver badge

              Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

              > by purchasing a Hildebrand Glow display

              Then purchasing something that can interpret those MQTT messages.

              Purchasing appliances that can be controlled (or, at a minimum, purchasing mains switches that can be controlled - assuming that the existing appliances are old and dumb enough to be safely/correctly controlled just with a Big Red Switch).

              Probably purchasing a new 'phone, because the super-amazing setup apps for the above don't work on the older models that are doing everything else ok (or, if not, aren't as important to daily life as, you know, your home actually functioning, so weren't worth the cost of the 'phone).

              Why, I Can Just Feel The Pounds Melting Away![1]

              [1] oops, wrong slogan; what was the one about saving so much due to the reduced energy usage?

              1. Captain Hogwash

                Re: Then purchasing something that can interpret those MQTT messages.

                HOME ASSISTANT! HOME ASSISTANT!

                Run it on any old computer or a Raspberry Pi.

                1. tip pc Silver badge
                  Holmes

                  Re: Then purchasing something that can interpret those MQTT messages.

                  HOME ASSISTANT! won't run when the power is off.

                  i take it you mean for Home assistant to turn things off once the cost of electricity rises above a threshold.

                  If my washing machine/ dish washer / dryer turns off part way through, it'll use more electricity when power is restored hours later re heating what has then gone cold to then carry on its job.

                  most things don't like being unceremoniously turned off and will likely result in more wear and tear & more frequent replacement.

                  for something that is meant to save the planet, price surging resulting in unceremonial load shedding can & likely will result in use of more energy ultimately costing consumers more.

                  1. Captain Hogwash

                    Re: i take it you mean...

                    Yes. Obviously you don't just shut things off willy nilly. You'll be using smart switches and you'll know what device/appliance each one is assigned to. You'll use your brain when concocting automations. Sure you'll need to purchase the switches but the hardware to run Home Assistant can often be picked up for no money and a bit of effort from Freecycle/Freegle type places. Insights gleaned from monitoring the power draw through the switches will eventually lead to better scheduling of appliance usage such that shutting things down becomes either unnecessary or rare.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Then purchasing something that can interpret those MQTT messages.

                    Load shedding is a really dumb policy. They do that in South Africa and it causes more problems than it solves...not least the destruction of devices when the power comes back.

                    Source: I have family in South Africa that have to deal with load shedding and their electronic kit regularly gets wrecked / wears out quickly due to power cycling.

                2. that one in the corner Silver badge

                  Re: Then purchasing something that can interpret those MQTT messages.

                  > Run it on any old computer or a Raspberry Pi

                  Still something to be purchased. Not even every geek has that hardware lying around unutilised and available to be (re)purposed.

                  Oh, and are the power savings going to be greater than that needed to keep "any old computer" running?

                  And that *still* doesn't address the issue of physically controlling the appliances...

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Then purchasing something that can interpret those MQTT messages.

                    "Not even every geek has that hardware lying around unutilised and available to be (re)purposed."

                    I think you'd be surprised...it's less common for people to not have spare tech than you'd think these days...not least because most people don't know how to properly dispose of tech.

                3. Roland6 Silver badge

                  Re: Then purchasing something that can interpret those MQTT messages.

                  > Run it on any old computer or a Raspberry Pi.

                  Better device would be an old (Android) mobile phone…

            2. The other JJ

              Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

              The downvotes essentially criticise the Hildebrand Glow meter as being a geek thing, but are we not geeks here? :-)

              But seriously, I've gone this route myself and learned a few things about my electricity consumption that have saved a fair bit. But sure, it's not for the average consumer. And some don't want to learn, like a former IT Director who complains about his several hundred a month bill for using fan heaters as British Gas can't make his central heating work effectively, but doesn't accept that the cause is incompetence from BG that he needs to deal with.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                Yes, but we have to decide what to do with the time that is given to us.

                1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

                  Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                  We’re all posting comments to a website. It’s not exactly carpe diem around here.

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                Did you have to use a Hildebrand Glow meter to work out the former IT director's problem or did you do it remotely from what he told you? Even if it needed a site visit the number of fan heaters would have been a clue. Real geeks read specifications.

        2. Annihilator

          Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

          There are a few providers offering dynamic tariffs now. Essentially more advanced versions of the Economy tariffs where you'd get two rates - one off peak, one peak, and allow you to fill your storage heaters over night, run washing machines/driers etc.

          Now, it's mostly for charging EVs during off-peak times where there's a power surplus on the Grid.

          Frankly, this is what I've been waiting for, and what I was promised with smart meters.

          1. cyberdemon Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

            Yes so basically if you don't buy into the EV/PV subsidy game, then there is zero reason to want a smart meter ...

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

              Yes so basically if you don't buy into the EV/PV subsidy game, then there is zero reason to want a smart meter ...

              Or try to game the system-

              https://www.scottishpower.co.uk/electric-vehicle/tou-tariff

              Charge your EV at a lower rate of 7.450p per kWh between midnight and 5am**.

              which seems to be quite a bit cheaper than their Economy 7 rate.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                I'd need a long extension cord to be able to connect to Scottish Power from London, wouldn't I

            2. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

              > Yes so basically if you don't buy into the EV/PV subsidy game

              From what I can see PV’s with intelligent battery control are a good reason to get a smart meter. Size your battery and PV array correctly and you will be drawing very little from the grid, but able to sell to the grid at times financially beneficial to yourself. Trouble is firstly these systems are expensive and more difficult to install and require a level of geekiness to operate. secondly, the benefits accrue to the consumer, not the supplier, which will be why the suppliers won’t be offering these systems…. Although, a smart disruptive supplier could act as a broker between users on the same local loop, enabling one users’ surplus to be used by other users instead of them waiting until “cheap” time to draw down energy from the distribution grid. As more houses have solar panels et al, we can expect to see more instances where dumping electricity back to the grid is not an option as there are insuffiicient users for that energy.

              1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                Your smart disruptive suppliers could even be a not for profit local co-op, really useful for lower bills in the summer months.

                Come winter though, I think the utility companies would be stiffing everyone with the max allowed unit cost 24/7 because they're in business to make money when they can.

              2. Bebu Silver badge
                Windows

                Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                《From what I can see PV’s with intelligent battery control are a good reason to get a smart meter. Size your battery and PV array correctly and you will be drawing very little from the grid, but able to sell to the grid at times financially beneficial to yourself. Trouble is firstly these systems are expensive and more difficult to install and require a level of geekiness to operate. secondly, the benefits accrue to the consumer, not the supplier, which will be why the suppliers won’t be offering these systems…. Although, a smart disruptive supplier could act as a broker between users on the same local loop, enabling one users’ surplus to be used by other users instead of them waiting until “cheap” time to draw down energy from the distribution grid. As more houses have solar panels et al, we can expect to see more instances where dumping electricity back to the grid is not an option as there are insuffiicient users for that energy.》

                Quoted in full as this pretty much summarizes the situation in AU (not lacking in either sunlight or rooftop PVs)

                Retailers are/were offering discounted batteries to consumers with existing rooftop PVs (and an inverter which is probably more germane) to soak up the excess solar kwHs from the grid and re-exported in the peak periods. The discount is subject to the retailer having control of the battery. (2-3 year contract.)

                The Scot's off-peak rate for EVs could make it worthwhile to ditch the EV and just get the battery and inverter and use the battery during non off-peak periods. ;) PVs in Scotland? A bit like central heating in Darwin I would have thought.

          2. unimaginative

            Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

            > Now, it's mostly for charging EVs during off-peak times where there's a power surplus on the Grid.

            For now.

            It will end up with poor people not being able to heat their houses in winter.

        3. katrinab Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

          The only actual use-case I would consider for that is charging batteries of various descriptions.

          If I could connect the charger to an interruptible supply and get it at a cheaper rate, then most of the time I would be OK with that, and I could connect it to a more expensive outlet for the times when I really need it to be charged ASAP.

        4. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

          > They allow you to adjust your consumption to dynamic surge/discount pricing periods.

          That doesn’t actually save me energy. Yes, I can reorganise my life to enable the tumble dryer to run at cheap rate time, but it will still consume the same amount of energy.

          The only way I can reduce my energy consumption is to change settings (eg. Wash at 30C instead of 40C) or replace appliances with more energy efficient appliances. However, replacing appliances is no guarantee of energy savings: my 2021 dishwasher has a better energy rating than the circa 2003 one it replaced, but on the cycle I use most the energy saving is negligible but it does use 2 litres less water.

          In saving energy, ie. helping me to change settings and appliances, my ancient Owl energy monitor has been of more use, as I could attach it to individual appliances and monitor their actual energy consumption when operated on different settings/programmes. About the only useful thing a smart meter gives over the Owl, is that I (the user) don’t have to configure the monitor to reflect my tariff and so the smart meter display unit can display a better approximation of my £ energy cost.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

            Not having a tumble drier would be the big win here. Although with a spring winter like the one we're having...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

              Mate, the whole fucking universe is energy, it's more common than air...the problem isn't that there isn't enough energy...charging for energy is like charging you to breathe air...the problem is the technology for producing and storing it is held by gatekeepers and it is over regulated.

              How to produce energy should be a key part of the science curriculum at school to ensure more people know how to produce and store energy.

              Look at the current move to solar energy. Installing those setups is a piece of piss...but most people end up spending thousands for someone else to install it because of regulations, the perception that it is difficult and the supply chain for things like solar panels, inverters and batteries.

              Quite a lot of us here have probably messed around with those little solar robotics kits that are out there...putting solar panels on your house is the same fucking thing but scaled up.

              We're all led to believe that 240v is extremely dangerous to work with and needs specialist qualifications to go near, but the reality is, it's not actually that dangerous...if you're fit and healthy a whack from 240v mains will just give you a short bang and shake you up for a minute or two...it's unlikely to kill you.

              I've worked with 240v most of my life and I've been shocked loads of times, not once (to my knowledge) have I died...have I injured myself? Sure. Was it out of stupidity, of course...but the precautions to protect yourself are common sense there is no black magic or voodoo involved.

              You'd think with the way things are regulated that electricity is as dangerous as gas...it's not even close.

              Gas, I would agree needs proper hands to work with it as the consequences there are fucking dire...but wiring?? These days we have fuses and protection up the wazoo...especially in the UK...it's probably one of the safest things you can work on in your house...deep frying chips on a gas hob is far more dangerous and unskilled people do that all the time.

              It sucks that you can't just go and buy a high throughput generic panel and a decent sized battery and inverter and just install it yourself.

              If I had my way, I'd have a totally separate solar circuit in my house with 12v outlets because almost everything is 12v these days...I'd get better performance out of the system, because I don't loose anything converting from DC to AC then back to DC again, I could keep loads of lower power 12v devices running essentially permanently (wifi, router, switches, low power PCs, some lighting etc etc) and I'd take a decent chunk out of my energy bill...but is it possible? Probably with a shit ton of effort, but I'm an engineer...it's well out of reach for regular folks.

              What makes me choke on my tea is that if you do go for an off the shelf solar system from your energy supplier...it takes 10 years for it to pay for itself...and the recommended life span for most of the components (panels etc) is 5-10 years (you could do regular maintenance and eek out a couple of extra years, but panels are pretty rigid to the 10 years because sunlight is sunlight)...so the way solar energy is setup right now, it only benefits the energy grid / supplier...not you the consumer...the only way it can benefit the consumer is if you remove the installation cost. This brings the breakeven to under 5 years and you get (up to) 5 years of cost saving benefit.

              Currently, if you live by yourself in a small house...you can just about scrape some savings out of solar...but if you have a family, it's a completely worthless investment.

              How many single people do we have living in small houses? Given the sheer number of flats that have been built over the last decade or so...I'd imagine, not many...and it's impossible to make solar worthwhile on a block of flats...not enough roof space, too many tenants etc etc...it wouldn't make a dent.

              1. Kernel

                Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                "Quite a lot of us here have probably messed around with those little solar robotics kits that are out there...putting solar panels on your house is the same fucking thing but scaled up.

                We're all led to believe that 240v is extremely dangerous to work with and needs specialist qualifications to go near, but the reality is, it's not actually that dangerous...if you're fit and healthy a whack from 240v mains will just give you a short bang and shake you up for a minute or two...it's unlikely to kill you."

                On the other hand, I've regularly seen one string of my solar array churning out 12A or more at around 400V DC - that'll give you a short bang alright, but you'll need an awful lot of shaking afterwards.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                  Sure, but with the right education it's no more dangerous than crossing a street. There are no regulations preventing you leaving your house to walk along a road or cross it before you have an appropriate qualification.

                  What really grinds my fucking gears about solar installations is that you have to use the parts the installation company insists on, you cannot just source your own parts and hire a firm to install the stuff you bought. It would work out a lot cheaper if it could be done this way.

                  Similarly, the subsidy the government offers can only be claimed through a registered third party. You can't install your own gear and claim the subsidy.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                  Yeah, but that is what fuses and ground fault protection are for...the measures that protect you are basic man...it's not rocket science...it can be taught to anyone...you don't need to understand complicated electronics to work with safely with electricity...

                  The weird thing is, I can go and get a bunch of Calor gas cylinders for next to nothing and sit next to them in my living room and nobody will bat an eyelid...I can also go to a petrol station and pump my own fuel without anyone checking to see if I'm mentally stable or capable of such a task without causing havoc or without the risk of hurting someone. I can even build a shaky tower of furniture to get up and clean my gutters and the local authority won't stop me...working with solar is no more dangerous than any of this, in fact it is probably safer...yet it's high regulated.

                  Can I pump my own fuel?

                  Of course sir!

                  Can I buy compressed cylinders of gas?

                  Sure, why not? They're over there, just grab one and take it home.

                  I'd like to buy a trampoline and a load of knives to jump on it with.

                  Ok sir, weird...but I guess it's legal.

                  Can I install and source my own solar gear?

                  Oh no sir, that's regulated, we wouldn't want you to get hurt now would we?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

            The solution is to allow for more nuclear power plants to be constructed. Consumption of energy isn't the problem, energy is everywhere it is not scarce or rare...the problem is how we produce and store it.

        5. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

          Dynamic pricing is just another way of saying "we auction every kilowatt". It serves only one purpose and that's the financialization of utilities.

          FWIW -- I had spinning wheel meters for decades. They never went wrong, never went "out of calibration" and were relatively easy to read. Even then the supplier didn't bother with reading them that often because a household's consumption pattern was predictable enough that they could easily estimate bills with a high degree of accuracy. We've had an electronic meter for some years now and it does roughly the same job but does allow the utility to fine tune their tariffs so they can screw the maximum out of everyone while supplying the minimum amount of energy.

          Remember -- buying governments requires a lot less capital investment than building power plants or transmission systems.

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They allow you to adjust your consumption to dynamic surge/discount pricing periods.

          can't wait to see this in supermarkets. It's coming.

          1. Bebu Silver badge

            Re: They allow you to adjust your consumption to dynamic surge/discount pricing periods.

            《can't wait to see this in supermarkets. It's coming.》

            Wendy's recently tried this on - wasn't popular - their response in defence was: we weren't going to increase prices during periods of high demand but we intended decreasing prices during low demand ... You don't have to be particle physicist and renormalize this to work out that it amounts the same thing.

            Our local national (AU) grocery store Woolworths this year replaced shelf price labels with electronic e-paper labels which sufficiently resembled the paper ones that I didn't notice until one went into a reboot loop in front of my eyes.

            So I imagine the management could increase the prices of everything in all (~1000) of their stores by 10% (say) almost instantly. A woolly wet dream methinks.

            Each and every day I am more and more convinced that the future isn't worth waiting around for. :(

      2. Captain Hogwash

        Re: I wonder how long I can just ignore them?

        I've been ignoring mine for well over a year.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I wonder how long I can just ignore them?

          I've been ignoring meter certification letters for gas and electric since I moved in 25 years ago.

        2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: I wonder how long I can just ignore them?

          I've been ignoring them since this fiasco started.

        3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: I wonder how long I can just ignore them?

          I got so annoyed with the supplier's insistence that I switched supplier.

          The new supplier seems like such a small operation that they probably don't even have procedures in place to arrange it.

          Apparently my meter is beyond its certification date and "must" be replaced, but I am not rushing to do it. Also apparently I can insist on a dumb meter but would have to pay £150 for the privilege. I'm sure I can kill the radio for less than that though.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I wonder how long I can just ignore them?

            whats the problem with a smart meter?

            1. Adair Silver badge

              Re: I wonder how long I can just ignore them?

              The lies. And the truth—they are just a bit crap, along with the implementation. A fiasco.

              1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: I wonder how long I can just ignore them?

                "...a subsidiary of Capita that is responsible for overseeing the smart meter infrastructure and rollout. "

                Ergo, crap

          2. MiguelC Silver badge

            Re: I wonder how long I can just ignore them?

            New smart meters will probably have PLC modems (at least where I live - not the UK anymore - they're connected that way) so the death of 2G/4G/5G/.../nG will have no effects whatsoever in that realm

      3. deevee

        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

        Yeah, they help you to save money, by stinging you with punitive Time Of Use pricing, so you will stop using electricity, when you would otherwise need it and be using it, for fear of high bills!

      4. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

        I'm up to years now. They've sent letters. They've called. I told them I don't want a smart meter. They ignored me. They've been calling from two separate numbers which I've never answered, and now gone back to trying texts.

        1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

          Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

          My energy provider wanted to fit a smart meter, I had just had a PV array fitted, and the house has a genny feed fitted too. They said that was too complicated, and they would take me off the list.

          Their installer company then contacted me and said I had to have a smart meter fitted. I pointed out the provider had taken me off the list due to the above reasons, they said it didn't matter.

          I asked if they had an installer more suited to an industrial install then a residential, they said no. I said I would not be held responsible if they sent out someone with out the knowledge of a system like this and they electrocuted themselves. They said I had just issued a death threat against their staff...

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

            This is why it is good to record calls. When dealing with idiots like that, switch to speakerphone mode and then run the recorder app on any mobile.

            And, personally, I'd escalate a complaint directly to the highest person you can get hold of. It's NOT a death threat to warn them that your situation is non standard and a person used to house installs will probably fuck it up.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

              Having "non-standard" electrical configurations is bad bad bad. This is why there are building codes, permits and inspections.

              I see all these posts about the electrical company sending letters, calls, texts, for years about meters, etc, here in the US they'll just send somebody and cut you off at the pole connection if they feel that you've broke the rules.

              1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

                Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                Define "non-standard"? All the equipment in my house is perfectly normal as per both the last and current editions of the regs. Just because most homes do not have PV Arrays and generator switch over units doesn't mean they are non-standard.

                Doesn't mean your average sparky doing domestic meter installs knows how they work.

                1. blackcat Silver badge

                  Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                  I doubt your average meter installer knows lock-out tag-out. If (fuse == removed) then safe.

                  The guys from the DNO who came to fit a new incomer as we were looped off next door were very professional. They knew their stuff but then they were working partly live.

                  1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

                    Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                    That's the issue, if you pull the primary fuse on my system, it's not safe, you need to pull the DC and AC isolators on the PV array too to disable the inverter, and lock off the genny switch, or it'll auto close. Most meter installers think pulling the grid fuse makes it safe because the grid is disconnected *nods*

                    1. Oneman2Many

                      Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                      You would think they can read the dual feed warning stickers put on the grid supply by PV installers.

                      Its not like it's a unique install, there are over a million PV installs in the UK.

                      1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

                        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                        The genny feed isn't as common.

                        1. Oneman2Many

                          Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                          To be honest, wouldn't consider it much different than having a battery in addition to an Inverter.

                          1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

                            Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                            Batteries are normally tied into the inverter, as otherwise they need their own inverter.

                            1. Oneman2Many

                              Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                              It not unusual to have 2 invertors, I have 2 myself due to having an older system on the original FIT and expanded it with a second hybrid invertor, more higher density panels, battery and EV charger. The installer had no issues swapping the meter. Everything is on isolation switches and clearly labelled, not hard to do.

                              1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

                                Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                                I didn't say it was weird, I said having batteries isn't considered a seporate power feed to the inverter as they are tied into the inverter for actual use.

                                A genny feed is a bit different in that is it designed to kick in _when you disconnect the mains_

                                As in if the main fuse is pulled by the meter tech, there's a spare 30A kicking in ready to kill you.

                                It's dormant till then. That's why you need an installer who understands these systems, which the average resident al meter installer does not.

                                1. Sam not the Viking Silver badge

                                  Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                                  I've worked on a lot of systems like this, industrial, not domestic. I'm staggered at how ill-informed 'electricians' can be about power supplies and their variations. They seem to be trained on the 'standard' and don't have the training to recognise when they are out of their depth.

                                  I've been on training courses where the lecturer hadn't realised that a ring-main, connected to a standby generator, needs isolating from both sides of the 'ring' as well as the 'mains'.

                                  I think 'education' helps you to realise what you don't know. Those who know everything know nothing.....

                                  1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

                                    Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                                    Yeap, the issue with my system isn't that the genny need isolating from the gird, as that's the job of the genny change over switch in the first place - backfeeding a dead grid feed is just asking to kill some poor person fixing it further up stream.

                                    The issue is that with the grid isolated, even though the meter and gird feed are "dead", the distboard/etc around it just became live again, and if you don't understand this, there is still a risk you will find something that is powered up simply because your education missed that option.

                                    Just because the part you are changing is now safe, doesn't mean everything else is *nods* And people do dumb things.

                                2. Oneman2Many

                                  Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                                  Yes i know what a genny is and how it works but it should be on a clearly labelled isolator that can disconnect from grid feed.

                                  Next you will be commenting on bi-directional ev chargers.

                                  1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

                                    Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                                    "Yes i know what a genny is and how it works but it should be on a clearly labelled isolator that can disconnect from grid feed."

                                    The statement alone appears to prove otherwise on the "how it works" part.

                      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                        "Can" and "will" are two different words.

                    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
                      Facepalm

                      Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                      If your generator is making it dangerous at the meter when the incomer is disconnected, that means that it's set up to backfeed the neighbourhood in an outage. That seems somewhat sub-optimal, as well as being dangerous for any linesmen.

                      Why isn't it wired into a changeover switch? (automatic or manual)

                      They should be able to disconnect the meter, your genny kick in to power your house while they work, then when they connect the new meter and flip the switch, you change back. OK, perhaps there might be an extra box in the meter cabinet that they don't understand, but they don't need to touch it.

                      1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

                        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                        No, the issue is if you disconnect the grid feed, the change over kicks in, and although the meter is now disconnected and safe, everything on the distribution board next to it just became live again, and most meter installers don't understand _that_. I've had a meter installer start to take the cover off the distboard to check the cables from the feed (via the changeover) into the distboard's main breaker, and I had to point out the distboard and the other side of side breaker was live at mains voltage because the genny was feeding it, and kindly do not take off the cover _till you know it is safe_

                        The reason my genny makes it "dangerous" at the meter is simply the fact that the meter is next to the distboard. therefore making one safe does not equal the equipment next to it being safe.

                2. heyrick Silver badge

                  Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                  I didn't mean "non standard" in the sense of not up to specs, I meant in the sense of not what a typical domestic property contains (so "following the script" will not get them far). As you rightly point out a few messages down, whacking off the mains supply does not make the system "safe" for prodding with a screwdriver and/or fleshy appendages.

                  It's absolutely not a death threat, quite the opposite in fact, and if they're too bloody stupid to understand that, they're too bloody stupid to go anywhere near your wiring.

              2. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                > Having "non-standard" electrical configurations is bad bad bad.

                A client has a domestic central heating/hot water boiler for the offices attached to a warehouse, unfortunately, the service company doesn’t read the notes and keeps sending out a person qualified to work on industrial boilers, who then can’t work on the domestic boiler, call out a domestic boiler engineer and they refuse as it’s installed on business premises which their liability insurance doesn’t cover them for…

                As for non-standard PV/battery/generator installs, much depends upon the PV installer.

                The PV install my neighbour had a couple of months back, included PV and battery, plus switchable EV charging from PV and/or Home battery, plus the distribution panel (in the meter cupboard) included a spare pair of connectors for a generator/second PV-battery array. Whilst the installer was using components they stocked, they were double checking everything as currently they were only selling a few of these more capable (and expensive) systems.

                I suspect the utility installers have only been trained to do basic installs of their specific (more basic) system, hence why they run away…

                1. heyrick Silver badge

                  Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                  Just to drop a random anecdote in here... A long time ago I had an immersion heater installed to give hot water. The guy run the cabling through the loft, down to the meter cupboard, fitted an RCB, and then went to hook it up to the main trip switch.

                  "Oh my god, which one is live?", he said looking at four chunky wires attached to four equally chunky screw terminals.

                  "That's neutral, the rest are live so hook up to this and any ONE of these."

                  He went off for a typically long lunch so I thought I'd double-check his work. Yeah, I don't think a regular immersion heater would last too long pumping 380V through it (though it might take less than five freaking hours [1] to heat the water). I quietly adjusted the connections so it was correct. And, hey, this bloke had pieces of paper to his name and I'm just some random dipshit that played with the user port of a BBC Micro... <sigh>

                  1 - I want to have it taken out and replaced with something smaller, maybe 50 or 60 litres, but the quotes I've had to do that mean that it's likely to be cheaper to just waste electricity heating too much water for the foreseeable rest of my lifetime... How is it a plumber can earn in a half day changing a water tank (that I'd do myself if I had a clue how to drill into a stone wall) damn near what I earn in a month? Dafuq?

                  1. PRR Silver badge

                    Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                    > waste electricity heating too much water

                    Not a hideous problem if you use insulation. Here I have a 60 gal/240L heater (anything really smaller costs more in the US, until you get to pint-size). But there's only two of us here, most of that water may sit for days. The latest Standards force the shell to be filled with quite good ($$$) foam, and thermal breaks at key points. Because it is electric (no flame or smokepipe), on top of that I added 2 inches more insulation (a standard and approved accessory); I got the space. Even with costly electric, this is no more expensive than a gas-fired non-storage (on-demand) water heater (and much more even-tempered).

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

                    Because plumbers are far less common than garden variety developers / IT folks?...especially "developers" that work with C#, Java or JS...ten a penny...so many in fact that following the layoffs from large bluechip tech companies, those names now act as a filter to get rid of the dross...I am aware of several places that won't touch former FAANG bros because they have been bitten in the ass so many times by underwhelming ability...unfortunately this glut of worthless fuckwits pulls the price down for the rest of us because these folks that are getting filtered are asking for lower and lower salaries / day rates to get a foot in the door...even though they aren't capable of working outside of a massive corporate ass wiping structure.

                    I know a couple of former Facebook developers that changed career because they couldn't handle the pressure of the real world where results are expected...on time...for a fixed, tight, budget.

                    They both shadowed me and whenever an urgent situation came up, they were like deers in headlights...frozen to the spot unable to make quick decisions...because in their former world, their tiny little pigeon hole had no stakes they were never in a situation where a decision they made could cause a business to lose money and/or go under...they would just have their little project shit canned and get moved to a different team...no consequences.

                    I've worked at some of these firms as a contractor and it never ceases to surprise me how difficult it is to get a decision made...I did a couple of days at Skype once (before it was Microsoft) and I needed to reboot a server...I couldn't find a fucking soul in a team of about 40 techies that would green light a reboot or give me a "safe" window to do so...so I just went ahead and did it...which solved the problems I was working on and apparently it was done in record time. I was like Jesus Christ when I left that place because I had the balls to reboot a server in the middle of the day without waiting for a greenlight.

      5. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

        I get two emails a week telling me I need a smart meter and how wonderful they are.

        I ignore these emails.

        I also now get told to supply my meter reading every month - no longer just quarterly.

        Doesn't take long, and gives me more accurate billing, which I suspect is in my favour.

        I wonder whether the demand for a meter reading will become more frequent, and move to fortnightly then weekly, as they get more desperate.

      6. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

        My energy company has started to bug me as my old spinning wheel leccy meter is outside its certification date. I wonder how long I can just ignore them?

        I, like you, have no enthusiasm for moving to a smart meter, but had my hand forced - my digital meter is set for Economy 7 but the signal that controls that is going to be discontinued, and the only option is to switch to a smart meter :-(

        1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

          I'm in a similar position. The signal is part of the 200kHz transmission that also carries Radio 4 long wave. The actual switch off date in spring next year.

          I have the additional problem that the entire meter/distribution board is only held onto the wall by the cabling. All the screws have long since rusted away, and the board itself is slowly disintegrating. It's in a cellar and mounted directly to a damp wall - not even on spacers.

          Oh, and UK Power Networks have to come and change the whole supply fuse assembly, The fuse is frozen in place and the casing is falling apart. Apparently this could be up to EIGHT weeks... after they contact me to arrange it :(

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

            The casing could disintegrate resulting in exposed live unprotected (RCD) circuits, if memory is correct that’s will generate a more rapid response…

        2. John Sager

          Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

          my digital meter is set for Economy 7 but the signal that controls that is going to be discontinued

          I got a letter from my supplier saying my meter needed replacing because of that. The flaw there is that it doesn't. I know that because its built-in clock has drifted over the years. I continue to ignore the blandishments from my supplier. It hasn't descended to threats yet but I recently checked their tariffs, and any 'cheaper' tariffs than the standard require a smart meter to be installed.

      7. Ourshug

        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

        Octoplus by any chance?

        Yeah they've switched from sending out regular <smart meters are the new hotness> emails to <your meter is outside it's certification> period.

        The Sangamo Wesaton S200 meter dates from 1967 and was last calibrated in 1989 and hasn't bothered them or any previous suppliers for the last 35 years and yet remains more accurate than two CT sensors I've got hanging off the live tails which consistently read 5-6% higher than the Sangamo and provide the <estimated> energy usage and the pretty graphs for my Home Assistant energy monitoring..

      8. adam 40 Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

        I've been fobbing mine off for over 4 years, they have now given up. My last excuse was "we are locked down, you can't come round and give us the lurgy".

      9. simonlb Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

        My energy company has started to bug me as my old spinning wheel leccy meter is outside its certification date

        Certification date? Seriously? What level of total bullshittery is this?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

      "all those people who didn't want anything to do with 'em are going to have the joy of watching the technician come back"

      Not quite. It's just that we're still getting phone calls and letters to ignore about installing the first one.

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

      Funny, other developed countries managed to roll out a change to smart meters. Here in France, we've mostly transitioned to the Linky and while there have been hiccups and tin foil hats, it hasn't been a complete disaster.

      Even better, us rural folk (can't speak for the townies) have the meter that communicates around midnight using CPL. This is picked up by a box up the line (about half a kilometre away, still within the 230V/380V section (we're three phase)). This box then uses, I believe, 2G to send the data from each meter. If 2G gets shut down, somebody comes and changes the box. The meters themselves won't notice any change.

      Which leads to the obvious question - if the UK meters are directly communicating via the mobile network, why was this not done by way of a plug in module? It's not as if the writing hasn't been on the wall for 2G since forever. Then a technician can just come and swap the board for one that talks 4G (or whatever).

      1. adam 40 Silver badge

        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

        Because the end user could unplug the box, and the leccy company couldn't then do a remote disconnect.

        Do your French ones have remote disconnect too?

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

          Messing with the data transmission module won't do anything due to two reasons:

          The first is that opening the box is a killswitch. I'm not sure how it works, but I believe Enedis need to come and either reprogram or replace the thing. You'll have some explaining to do...

          The second is that the remote control is handled by way of carrier signalling. At certain times of the day, people with sensitive eyes might see the lights flicker slightly. EDF puts quite a bit of data on the transmission lines, for load balancing, switching some street lights, changing tariff (like mechanical night rate switches) and, of course, the option to address a meter and reconfigure it exists. I can call Enedis and ask them to change the TIC format (onboard data port), and this will be done via line signalling.

          I don't think they're allowed to actually disconnect anybody (unless the law has changed?), but they can bump a customer down to 1KVA if they don't pay the bills. That's enough for a fridge and lights and... not a lot else.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

        Suspect part of the uk problem revolves around who is responsible for the smart meter. If the local network provider was responsible, then all meters in an area would most probably be linked over the supply cable to a local management hub. However, it seems it is the energy company the consumer is purchasing energy from, who are building the smart meter network and they naturally don’t have full control/oversight of a segment of the local network…

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

          This is an aspect I've never fully understood. The DNO owns the wires into the property and the fuse, you own the fuse box and the current supplier owns the meter. It would be so much easier if the DNO owned the meters as well.

          Again the whole thing of the big switch in the smart meter being there for load shedding is a bit bollox as load shedding is controlled by the DNO so how would they control a meter 'owned' by one of the multitude of suppliers the UK has?

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

            Here in France, EDF (ErDF?) usually supplies the bouncing electrons.

            Enedis supplies the network that carries those electrons.

            Enedis also supplies the smart meters, but the electricity meters are actually property of the commune, it's the town mayor that is responsible for them. I have no idea why.

            The smart meter sends its data to Enedis, who pass it on to the energy supplier (usually EDF) for billing. In this way, it doesn't matter who issues the bill, it's the same meter on the same network.

            1. tip pc Silver badge

              Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

              I do wonder why that didn’t happen in the uk.

              It’s the obvious thing to do, 1 central billing organisation for gas & electric that then relays the detail to your chosen billing provider.

              Would’ve been simple to establish and then piggyback “smart meters” into that.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

      "Now, all those people who didn't want anything to do with 'em are going to have the joy of watching the technician come back and do it all over again."

      I had the "joy" of find my electric meter failed recently. It took three days of waiting 30mins to an hour and half (that latter being the time I cut off at 7pm on the dot because the support line closed) before finally getting through at arrange a replacement "NOT a smart meter, just a standard meter). A week later, the guy turned up and my wife phone me to tell me he was going to "upgrade" both gas and electric meters. So I speak to the guy, tell him under no circumstances do I agree to having the perfectly good gas meter "upgraded" and why hasn't he got a standard electric meter to replace the faulty one with, I never asked for an "upgrade".

      Not his fault, of course, he's just there do what's on the work sheet.

      Knowing how energy companies love to overestimate usage, and this time I've got no meter reading to prove differently, I ended up accepting the "smart" meter. The job sheet shows that he supplied and explained how the "energy monitor" works. Except there is no energy monitor so I now have an unwanted "smart" meter and not even the fucking gubbins that's supposed to make it "smart"!! Phone the suppliers and they said there is a shortage of the monitors. WTF? If it's a new meter in a the packaging, surely the monitor is part of the package? Are they "stealing" the new monitors to use as replacements when customers report faults?

      It's been a shit show from start to finish (except it's not finished yet)

      Bastards!!

    5. Roopee Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: So, smart meter joy is continuing

      I think the main point of smart meters is dynamic pricing, not dynamic use, to maximise profits. Sure, a few savvy customers will program their fancy washing machines, dishwashers and EV chargers to use cheaper electricity but the vast majority will simply pay higher prices for their normal usage pattern.

      Incidentally in the UK you can hold out against smart meters as long as you like - currently they are not mandatory, whatever the barrage of automated texts and phone calls tries to imply.

      Meanwhile the country is sleep-walking into a massive cyber attack that causes chaos, or worse...

  3. sanmigueelbeer
    Coat

    Has any "smart" meter manufacturer come up with a smart meter with modular cellular modem?

    Instead of upgrading the meter every time the cellular technology becomes obsolete, maybe the cellular modem can be upgraded instead?

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      I don't know if they have a modular meter, but ones that use the actual power cables the meter is plugged into to provide the back end networking exist https://www.corinex.com/broadband-over-power-lines Surely these would be a better option than relying on a 3rd party mobile infrastructure?

      Plus as 2g/3g get switched off some people may find that the remaining 4g/5g signal doesn't reach the location of their meter anymore since it might be in a basement or cupboard under the stairs and this will create additional problems.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        It's not just meters that are affected. Since 3G got switched off here ordinary mobile calls from home calls -provided I can make one - drop out and incoming calls go straight to voice mail.

        Meanwhile my friend with the overshadowing 5G mast tells me her wifi has suddenly become unreliable. Could it just be coincidence?

        1. tip pc Silver badge

          Meanwhile my friend with the overshadowing 5G mast tells me her wifi has suddenly become unreliable. Could it just be coincidence?

          i read that as

          Meanwhile my friend with the overshadowing 5G mast tells me her WIFE has suddenly become unreliable. Could it just be coincidence?

          & immediately thought here's another conspiracy fanatic.

          1. that one in the corner Silver badge

            > WIFE has suddenly become unreliable

            You know I hate to ask, but are 'friends' electric? Only mine's broken down and now I've no-one to love.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              My friends are a couple even more elderly then I am. She is wheelchair bound and he has given up driving so I'm in the habit of giving them a lift to see other friends once a week and giving her a lift to our monthly local history group and Civic Soc meetings. It takes me a little of my way but not much. Her in-house wheelchair is electric (but not the foldable one that goes in the car boot) if that answers your question.

      2. Terje

        Meter communication over the power line is mostly a dead technology there are niche areas where it is still practical to use, but it's mostly dead. There are to many problems with it and it's to easy for some electronics with a faulty power supply to knock out communication to the entire neighbourhood.

        1. heyrick Silver badge
          Happy

          "Meter communication over the power line is mostly a dead technology"

          Rural France would like a word with you.

      3. Crypto Monad Silver badge

        I expect all smart meters to be upgraded to 4G, just before 4G networks are being switched off in favour of 5G/6G.

    2. Steve Foster

      That's exactly how it's done. A comms hub is fitted as well as the smart meter. The hub is independently replaceable.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        A friend of mine has a smart meter in Edinburgh. There is no comms hub, or at least no separate one. Just a meter and a remote display which has not worked since the day it was "installed".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          the north of the UK smart meter connection is via radio not the mobile network

        2. Corin

          The top half of the electricity meter is the comms hub - it's removable. Have a look halfway up the meter, there's a gap in the plastic the whole width of the thing.

          See the picture on this page: https://www.smartdcc.co.uk/our-smart-network/network-products-services/communications-hub/

          1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

            Thanks. The bloody thing still doesn't work, mind you.

    3. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Per the article...

      the idea was to have a removable module which can be snapped out and replaced, so upgrading will require an engineer's visit but should only take a couple of minutes

      AFAIK, that should be true at least for the most recent generation of meters. As it currently stands, the north of the UK uses LoRa, while the southern area is (mostly) cellular so the meters have to be able to work with both technologies

      I presume there's a technical reason why it wasn't feasible to use the powerline itself for communication (too many transformers to bridge?) and that "competition" was the reason for having different networks in the north and the south, but I'd have thought that a dedicated network that was "good enough" and could be maintained for a generation would be better than attempting to piggyback on the constantly-evolving mobile network. The contract is in place for a 4G network.

      More information on the rather convoluted situation here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Per the article...

        yes using any form of wireless connection is always going to be a bit shite. France use powerline for their meters apparently

      2. PB90210 Bronze badge

        Re: Per the article...

        In the UK, originally *your* company supplied the meter, with the result that it went 'dumb' if you switched suppliers... phase 2 of the rollout was supposed to fix that

        (much like mobile phone 'porting' v locked phones)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It literally states that in the article:

      " I believe the idea was to have a removable module which can be snapped out and replaced, so upgrading will require an engineer's visit but should only take a couple of minutes."

    5. hoola Silver badge

      Very little is modular now because it is cheap to just replace then entire item. There is simply no value to the supplier or the fitter to replace a plug in module when it is deemed easier to just replace the meter.

      Given that older spinning wheel or early digital meters ran for decades quite happily for decades I simply don't buy the concept that a Smart Meter saver anybody anything. All this crap about items on standby and the stupid smart meter is consuming power telling you what is running.

      I already know what is running.

      Strangely I also know that if I turn on the cooker or kettle the consumption goes up. When they turn off consumption goes down.

      My mother (83 at the time) got into a huge flap when she was bamboozled into an ancient spinning wheel meter being replaced as it was better for her and there was this display on the worktop show £££ being spent. Guess what, turn on the kettle, toaster or worse a heater and it shows umpteen pounds per hour or day (cannot remember what). Her bills were not large & were affordable. The stupid Smart Meter cause huge amounts of upset for no reason. I took the display away and life returned to normal.

      1. waffler

        It's almost like they want older folk to freeze to death caused by panic from the smart meter displays. I too removed the display unit and she now heats her house again.

    6. Jon 37

      They should just have an Ethernet port. Especially for new build houses, where running an Ethernet cable from the meter to the router can be done during construction.

      Most people have Internet access already, reading a meter doesn't take much bandwidth.

      And it can be secure if done correctly. (I mean, it won't be done correctly, but it could be).

      If people get worried about electrical safety, or about people tampering with the meter by sending out-of spec voltages/frequencies over the Ethernet cable, then 10 or 100Mbps fibre optic is a cheap alternative to a copper Ethernet cable.

      The only problem with that is it makes the remote disconnect switch unusable. There's no way to turn it back on, since when it's off the Internet connection will be down.

      But if this was really about reading meters, and not about installing a remote disconnect switch in every home, then Ethernet would be a good choice for many homes.

      Even WiFi would work for many homes, and could be better when replacing an existing meter.

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Meter data going over your home LAN.

        How long until every website in Christendom is snarfing your meter readings to sell to advertisers?

        Oh, it is encrypted over a separate vlan, you say? Whoops, you'll never guess what that latest firmware update (sponsored by those nice people at Meta) has just done!

        And you remember the stories about being able to figure out what your telly is showing, based on the fluctuating power it draws? No Smart TV needed anymore...

        Oh, and you know that remote cutoff that only the suppliers can access? Well, read the next malware popup *very* carefully; can you type in your Bitcoin key before the lights go out?

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Oh, it is encrypted over a separate vlan, you say? Whoops, you'll never guess what that latest firmware update (sponsored by those nice people at Meta) has just done!

          The same is possible with 2G (or 3G or any other wireless connection protocol), just pretend you are the energy supplier.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            However with a 2/3G connection the meter does not have access to every other device on your LAN.

      2. Oneman2Many

        Octopus home mini links your smart meter to your internet connection for reporting. However it won't work for all customers with poor signal to the meter or those with no internet and yes there are those with no internet.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Indeed, plenty of people with no internet

          Some for financial reasons

          https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/one-million-lose-broadband-access-as-cost-of-living-crisis-bites/

          Others (like my mother in law) - elderly & just not interested in being online

          .. although there are a few things she "needs" it for (as non online methods not available or a total PITA) us poor serfs (to be fair, mainly my partner as her mum, though a few bits I get dragged into doing) do all her "tasks" that need internet use, but plenty of no internet people do not have that safety net.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      some have separate comms hubs

    8. DS999 Silver badge

      Isn't the site visit required to switch them out the big problem for them?

      At least by upgrading to LTE you know you'll never need to do that again, since 5G has LTE coexistence built in and it is reasonable to assume 6G will adopt that as well.

  4. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Mesh

    It's interesting to consider why they opted for 2G/3G instead of a bespoke network. Meters are generally installed close together, making a mesh network feasible, with a central reader in an electrical box on the street collating data. Such a system wouldn't require much bandwidth—just enough to transmit serial numbers, readings, basic telemetry (like temperature and current), and a cryptographic signature. However, at the time, integrating 2G/3G modules was likely seen as the cheaper option. Yet, this choice begs the question of why they would need the greater bandwidth of 4G, what the energy consumption will be when scaled to millions of devices, and the potential obsolescence of 4G within a decade.

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: Mesh

      "at the time, integrating 2G/3G modules was likely seen as the cheaper option"

      Likely this. Also it gives a good chunk of money to the network operator for providing the service, all from our bill.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Mesh

      Isn't obsolescence what it's all about from the mater supplier's PoV?

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Mesh

        What an utterly loony conspiracy theory.

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: Mesh

          Then explain the obviously really dumb choices made in early and current smart meter designs, if they want to only be paid once per metered property ever, instead of once per property every few years (or more frequently, ideally).

          As a supplier of anything, repeat custom is always preferable to one-off.

          Plus, it helps the energy companies keep their prices up, if the things have be constantly replaced. The extra cost added to our bills was supposed to cover the rollout. If the rollout stops, there will be massive pressure to take that component out. Can't have that.

          [Edited for typos]

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Mesh

          I take it you think Microsoft insisting on this and that bits of H/W for the next version of Windows are doing for entirely altruistic reasons and the fact that it will sell new PCs made by their hardware partners and with them new Windows licences is just a coincidence?

          Or is Poe's law in operation here.

        3. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: Mesh

          What an utterly loony conspiracy theory.

          And antisemitic too, knowing you.

    3. Dr Dan Holdsworth
      Boffin

      Re: Mesh

      Even easier would be to use the networking-over-power solution to communicate with comms hubs placed in each local power transformer building. These are common throughout residential and commercial districts and would provide the perfect place to go from low-bandwidth net-over-power to a connection in to a faster network.

      All you have to do then is provide some sort of infrastructure for variable power tariffs to be communicated over the net-over-power networks, together with some sort of Network Time Protocol to keep the meters time-synchronised. There would be no need for complicated enforcement of who gets power when; you just let price variation do the switching for you.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Mesh

        Variable pricing is ultimately the goal to control the behaviour of energy dependent masses.

        Imagine if supermarkets would do variable pricing of staple food to ensure the poor come early in the morning for cheap rice and potatoes, then hike the price throughout the day so the middle class could buy their Cavolo nero and venison in peace.

        This is going to be like with the energy moving forward. The poor will dance to the whims of energy companies (laundry Fridays, Tuesday night roast etc.)

        Energy companies don't invest in storage and infrastructure, so they will use the smart meters to pass that cost of negligence to the customers that have to buy energy regardless.

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: Mesh

          Nailed it.

          This and immediate remote disconnect with no due-process.

          Energy should be treated as a non-profit national service, and companies should be forced to invest anything and everything left over once the bills are paid into improved infrastructure, grid upgrades, increased generating capacity.

          Instead we get private for-profit businesses maximising sharehold value, which by definition minimises investment in infra. Do what's societally right, or create new and ingenious ways to bleed the consumers for every fucking penny? Guess which one they'll pick, every time.

          1. blackcat Silver badge

            Re: Mesh

            It is worse than that, we have a subsidiary of the French government owned energy company running big chunks of our generation network.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Mesh

            it would be interesting to see the price of solar panel systems and batteries / wind generators fall to the point that it becomes worth the expense and become less dependent on energy leeches. Although, I suspect (half-a-conspiracy-theory) that were it to happen, a sudden tsunami of taxes, fees, charges, compliance credentials, authorisations and licence fees would follow very soon indeed ;)

        2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: Mesh

          >Variable pricing is ultimately the goal to control the behaviour of energy dependent masses.

          No.

          I mean, they're happy to score that too, don't get me wrong.

          But no, the original, primary, and still overriding purpose and point of smart meters is Demand Management. Dialling down retail supply intra-day to cope with the inability of upstream suppliers to supply sufficient electricity. That can happen in micro by a retailer (eg EDF) failing to spin up generators in time (mismatch b/w intraday forecast demand vs actual demand) or increasingly a flatout inability of the upstream generators to create enough electricity.

          Talk to any electricity trader/operator on the short-term desk ("profit! less forecast failure carnage risk!"), or just read any of the government/quango whole-market documents ("hide the Net Zero consequences as long as possible!" Or as Australia's then-new regulator announced on starting: "people will just have to get used to Demand Management going forwards. It's the future!").

          1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

            Re: Mesh

            The upstream suppliers can't supply energy that is not fhere. When the wind does not blow, the rump of our baseload generation is no longer sufficient.

            1. John Robson Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Mesh

              Crikey - if only you were in charge, then the boffins wouldn't have missed this obvious problem.

              Shut down all the wind and solar, break up the biomass and lets get coal back... or maybe not.

              1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

                Re: Mesh

                So, what's the alternative? All the upper-middle-classes will be OK with their rooftop solar and batteries. For the rest of us, it seems that the only alternative is simply darkness until the wind picks up. There is no credible alternative - buying power off the Continent only works if they have it spare.

                Use less == "no power for you, sunshine!"

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mesh

          the middle class could buy their Cavolo nero and venison in peace.

          Venison is cheaper than lamb these days.

          1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: Mesh

            Venison is materially cheaper than Tesco's beef.

            And an order of magnitude better quality (nutrition) than any beef you can buy normally in Britain or Europe.

            Likewise, pheasants are cheap as chips. And so nutrition-dense that 1 tiny bird will feed an active man well for 3 days.

            Pop along to Hampshire Farmers Markets. Look for the gamekeepers with tweedy flatcaps standing behind a scruffy ream of sad-looking polystyrene boxes. IIRC from when I lived in England (left ~10yrs ago), matching like-for-like re which cut/mince you're looking at, the venison was 10-20% cheaper than Tesco's cheapest ultra-budget grade beef.

            And pheasant was £3 each, or 5 for £10. That £10 would give you 2 weeks GOOD eating.

            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

              Cooking Tips

              Venison is wild, so high-quality meat, so well-done = leather. Otherwise: cook like beef. Issue: no fat, and humans need fat to digest red meat (you can & will starve to death on an all-lean-meat diet; eg that French cavalry troop in Crimean War cut off by winter, starved to death eating 1.5kg/day of horse meat). So ladle in the butter.

              Tastes like really good beef.

              Venison heart: slice to inch squares, flash fry @ high temp in pool of butter 1-2mins. The flesh actually pops when you bite it.

              Pheasant: do the exact opposite of what all the cookbooks tell you, and you get a better result but with only 1-2mins human effort. No basting etc. Tripped across this in a 19C cookbook, recipe called Old-Fashioned English Hunters Style or somesuch.

              Prep takes "all" the time: smear it with butter & sprinkle on whatever herbs you like. The end. I eventually settled on a coat of paprika then sprinkle thyme, sage, bit of tarragon. Oh, and a bay leaf in the neck & in the cavity.

              Plop bird on tray on its back.

              Prep is now complete.

              Oven @ bread temp (eg 220⁰C): bird in for 15mins. Bird out, chuck on stovetop, oven dropped to (target) 100⁰ & door open to cool: 15mins. Oven @ 100⁰C: 15mins. Bird out, chuck on bench, The End.

              Do your veg now, it'll be rested when you're done.

              Carving= 2 breasts, and the legs: 3 serves: just split the carcass and separate the legs. 5-10 seconds.

              Crispish skin & juicy flesh every time with no effort.

              They leave the liver in the cavity. That's the cook's reward. Eat it as soon as cool enough: delicious.

              Tastes like meaty chicken, solid chicken.

              1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                Re: Cooking Tips

                Addenda:

                * Can't recall exactly if I foiled the pheasant or not. IIRC I settled on generally covering it in foil (scrunched in around the bird as it sat there) for the bread-temp bit because the herbs could turn too woody for ideal eating &/or the skin too crispy. For the 100C bit, sometimes on, sometimes off, depending on how the skin was going. I liked a slight crispiness but not too much.

                * The OTHER cook's reward: after the bread-temp bit, there'll be a puddle of juices around the bird. If you ignore them, they'll bake off.

                Don't ignore them. Get a teaspoon & hoover them up. Ab. so. lutely. DELICIOUS. Even better than the liver.

                * Be warned that if you eat venison & pheasant for a while, everyone around you will get a bit slow, and dim, and low-energy, and weak, and hard-of-thinking. It's not them, it's you. You've just got proper nutrition. (Same with kangaroo or old-fashioned Aussie beef (no longer available).) You'll need to adjust some of your automatic reactions.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Mesh

              "Pop along to Hampshire Farmers Markets."

              The travel costs would be a bit steep.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mesh

      for meters that use the mobile network ie South of the UK they can also use a MESH connection. We don't get a mobile signal where our meter is in our house (cornwall) but we do now get a MESH connection so after having a non working smart meter for about 4 years it does now work, enough of my neighbors must have had smart meters installed and some of them get a mobile signal on the WAN! But it required a replacement meter to be installed as the original hadn't even been commissioned.

    5. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Mesh

      It's interesting to consider why they opted for 2G/3G instead of a bespoke network.

      A comms mast appeared in the village where I live, and when I looked back at the planning record it said that it was for smart meters, so there's definitely some element of bespoke networking.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mesh

        it is a bespoke network run by telefonica and quite often stuck on their masts

    6. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: Mesh

      LoRa, LoRa, what has become of you? Does anyone else in here feel the way I do?

      (Bring the bytes back home)

      Don't leave the meters on their own, no, no.

      (Bring the bytes back home)

    7. Oneman2Many

      Re: Mesh

      Meters are already mesh capable. And why would spend billions on new infrastructure when one already exists ? If 2g was good enough for emergency services, its fine for smart meters

      4g isn't going anywhere, Vodafone picked up a 15 year contract to connect smart meters last year.

      https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2023/08/vodafone-uk-to-upgrade-energy-smart-meters-with-4g-mobile.html

      And finally they don't need the bandwidth of 4g, its what is available.

  5. Mast1

    "...... delays since its inception in 2012,....."

    Am I the only who, while speed reading, missed the 'c' in "inception".

    I almost went to the dictionary to look up the meaning, but reading the rest of the article saved the effort,

    1. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

      Re: "...... delays since its inception in 2012,....."

      ineption, noun, commencement of ineptitude, (see Capita, Fujitsu).

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: "...... delays since its inception in 2012,....."

        (see Crapita, Fushitetsu).

        Fixed your grammar.

        1. Jan 0 Silver badge

          Re: "...... delays since its inception in 2012,....."

          Re: "...... delays since its inception in 2012,....."

          > Fixed your grammar.

          No, you fixed the spelling.

  6. thondwe

    Never worked - No Coverage

    Ours never got to "commissioned" - supposed to be covered by Telefonica (aka O2) - but village is a not spot for most providers - still waiting on Rural mast sharing to be fully implemented

    JUST why cant the meters hang off Wi-Fi as a option - Have had various reasonable ISP connections for years - now 1GB/s FTTP and have depended on that for mobile (Wifi-calling, etc, and now even rarely used "land line" is a freebee VOIP/App setup.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never worked - No Coverage

      Our "smart" gas meter has never worked as a smart meter, despite the electricity meter less than 50cm away working perfectly. EDF refused to replace it with a working smart meter, and the incompetent ombudsman suggested that one reason for the problem might be that the gas meter was too far from the electricity meter, and when we sent a photo, they said "they don't have to give you a working one until 2025"....(I'm not holding my breath for that.... especially since we've now changed supplier.) The *only* reason we have smart meters is because we have solar panels installed and it's nice to be paid for the electricity we don't use, so the dumb gas meter is fortunately merely an annoyance.

      1. adam 40 Silver badge

        Re: Never worked - No Coverage

        But - you never needed it for Feed in Tariff - you gave them the reading from the solar inverter meter,.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never worked - No Coverage

      Because I'd wager less than half the country would be able to configure their meter to join their wifi, particularly after changing ISP, router, or moving house.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Never worked - No Coverage

      "JUST why cant the meters hang off Wi-Fi as a option"

      You want a device controlled by a third party to sit on your home LAN phoning home*? OK if your router supports a guest network but otherwise...

      Then there's the problem of what happens when the meter has cut off the supply**? That takes out the customer's router and then there's no way to switch it back on.

      * Other than a Windows PC, of course.

      ** Of course it can do that. Some unfortunate individuals have been "accidentally" remotely converted to pre-pay. Pre-pay doesn't work unless it can cut off the supply.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a device controlled by a third party

        So...? You don't use a Windows PC/Laptop then?

        Seriously, if your penny pinching ISP would supply routers with subnets then you could easily run the smart meter and similar devices in a different subnet to your PC/Laptop. My Vigor 2863 can run up to 8 different subnets.

        I already run my TV in a 192.168.7.x subnet

        1. cantankerous swineherd

          Re: a device controlled by a third party

          anyone want the job of rolling this out to the entire population?

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: a device controlled by a third party

          "So...? You don't use a Windows PC/Laptop then?"

          You obviously haven't read many of my posts.

        3. Bebu Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: a device controlled by a third party

          《Seriously, if your penny pinching ISP would supply routers with subnets then you could easily run the smart meter and similar devices in a different subnet to your PC/Laptop. My Vigor 2863 can run up to 8 different subnets.

          I already run my TV in a 192.168.7.x subnet》

          Actually our energy retailer acquired a national (AU) mobil phone/isp business and now offers discount broadband to its energy customers. We have a "smart" meter but doesn't have any remote comms capability and is manually read quarterly (possibly NFC?) so perhaps tinfoil hat time. :)

          These TVs all come from IPv6 lands so you want to ensure your router isn't doing 6-to-4 and NATing out from the translated 4 address. :)

      2. Terje

        Re: Never worked - No Coverage

        This I guess is the main reason. I would never allow it on my wifi at all, sure I could give it a separate vlan etc, but nope it would not let it touch my network, it's cheap stuff from manufacturers I don't trust to not have security issues that will never be patched.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Never worked - No Coverage

      pretty much same as us. Original meter installed 2018, NEVER worked no signal and the halfwhit installer shouldn't have installed it but did, no signal no commission. Provider then went tits up moved to Shell who I eventually managed to get to install a new meter. As they didn't install the original one they couldn't commission it so it had to be replaced. Now working on a MESH network, we get a signal on O2 outside the house but due to the location of the meter in the property and the thick stone walls there is no signal at the meter itself. If you have limited signal you can get a T2 aerial installed which might help, and there is a T3 aerial that is bigger again but that's really difficult to get installed as the DCC have to give permission. Being an end user you have to go through your electric provider and they then go to the DCC so its a right pain to get stuff done. Becasue according to the DCC maps I had a signal at my location they wouldn't install a T3 despite having no signal at the meter location, soooooo frustrating. Thankfully with more smart meters being installed I now get a MESH connection, but not having a smart meter meant no EV tarrif which cost us about £2k extra charging at 30p'ish rather than 7p kwh that we now pay

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who put the "smart" in "smart meter"?

    Obviously it was someone who clearly was not "smart"!

    So.....the designer isn't "smart", but the meter is "smart"! How often do we need to hear this message? Phones, TVs, refridgerators, SUV's........and the beat goes on!

  8. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    I'm puzzled by we are working with industry to support a smooth transition for consumers when 2G and 3G is switched off at the end of 2033..

    According to OFCOM, Vodafone and EE are killing/killed 3G early this year while Three are turning it off by the end of this year and 02 next year. So what will be left to stagger on to 2033? Are there still 2G networks in operation?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      2G is actually more likely to outlast 3G by a significant margin precisely because of things like alarms, smart meters and other hardware.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Evidence saya that won't be taken into consideration. The problem of alarms depending on landline is supposed to be being looked at but in the meanwhile the POTS switch-off is going ahead leaving any substitute depending, ultimately, on the electricity supply which is a good deal more fickle than POTS.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          POTS switch-off has been DECADES in coming, including warning for years. Redcare etc. are so antique that it's laughable and Redcare's IP options have been available for decades now.

          That said, I *still* have a POTS line, despite Vodafone (who manage my Openreach line) telling me repeatedly over the last 18 months that they'll be switching me to Digital Voice (which is basically a SIP trunk for your home phone number, and cutting off the voice on your landline but retaining the DSL connection). Not happened yet.

          BT have been chasing me professionally for about 20 years about the same too (but that was ISDN switchoff at first). Still not happened anywhere. I met with BT guys only yesterday - no mention of any culling of landlines yet when mentioned.

          The fact is that you'll have to move on, eventually, there is no question of that. No service is perpetual. But 2G will outlast 3G considerably. Maybe even 4G depending on how things go. "1G" (GSM) will likely be around for decades to come.

          Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for my home phone to come into my already-entirely-SIP household where I can then add it to my existing SIP trunks. Because, since moving in, I've never bothered to use a phone on the BT socket and don't even own such a device. I haven't even bothered to connect the landline voice port on my router (which can turn it into a SIP line for you). I don't even KNOW what my landline number is.

          And all services that might rely on something like a landline are more important than "let's just cut this off". Speaking from experience - elevator emergency controls (we just replaced ours with GSM!), home care alarms (being replaced with GSM), burglar alarms (GSM alongside the landline for emergencies already) etc. and none of them are "4G" or "5G" at all.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            > I met with BT guys only yesterday - no mention of any culling of landlines yet when mentioned.

            Interesting.

            When I spoke with BT/EE last month, I discovered I was in a POTS switch off area, with the plug due to be pulled shortly after Dec 2024. The answer to the obvious question, was that BT only communicated to its customers, if you were with another provider, switching the landline phone was their responsibility.

            To repeat something I read elsewhere, now is the time to move your landline phone to a digital voice service, whilst you still have ownership of it. Once the POTS service is switched off there is a strong likelihood you will loose the number as your contract will have been terminated.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "Redcare etc. are so antique that it's laughable and Redcare's IP options have been available for decades now."

            My sister-in-law has one of those personal alarms in case she falls. It depends on the land-line. It's only a year or so since she got it.

        2. adam 40 Silver badge

          POTS is not fickle because a statutory obligation, meaning they have to have loads of 48V lead-acid batteries in the exchange.

          Their power supply comes from the same source - national grid.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            It comes via a lot of battery storage. As things stand we have a power cut, I pick up the POTS phone (the DECTs have just dies, of course, and phone in a notification. (Since out 3G went a few weeks ago mobile coverage has become flaky)

  9. MatthewSt

    Zigbee

    It currently can't legally be used to obtain meter readings (so it's only useful for statistical purposes) but Octopus have a device that talks to your smart meter over Zigbee (how the in-home screen communicates) and then uses your home WiFi to submit readings near real-time - https://octopus.energy/blog/octopus-home-mini/

    Combine something like that with the meshing capability and you could probably route quite a few homes through the one connection, on an opt-in basis of course...!

  10. druck Silver badge

    British Gas new computer fsck up

    British Gas are probably blaming 1st gen smart meters stopping working due to 2G/3G being phased out, but it is not, it's their own fsck up. I don't know if it is intensional or not though.

    Despite having been built in 2017 our house has an 1st gen smart meter. It worked for first year we were with British Gas, then didn't for other suppliers as expected, when we came back to British Gas the meter started being smart again. However about 2 years ago British Gas upgraded their computer system which resulted in not being able to log in for several weeks, then we found they couldn't read the smart meter any more, and they started emailing us every month for readings. Now they are bugging us to upgrade to a 2nd Gen meter, normally using an unintelligible overseas call centre which drops the call half way through.

    BTW: We are nowhere near ready to turn off 3G anyway, I was trying to read The Register on the train from Waterloo to the Portsmouth on Monday and it spent most of the time on 2G (so slow it might as well not be connected) or 3G (will display a page eventually), only patchy 4G and no sign of any 5G on O2.

    1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

      Re: British Gas new computer fsck up

      New BG meters can't be guaranteed to work with other suppliers either, according to the installer who visited MrC senior last week.

      For reasons best known to him (i.e. watching adverts on telly), he booked a smart meter last November. BG had cancelled two appointments on him without telling him, then cancelled a third (Easter Saturday) after (they claim) "customer cancelled via web app"*. He's finally accepted my advice to switch suppliers, so when a fitter finally appeared for appointment 4, we asked if the meter would work with new suppliers. "It should do, but we've just changed the operations software and we can't say that it will. You would be better off changing supplier and letting them fit a new meter. Outstanding.

      * He can just about use their website to send meter readings, certainly can't rebook appointments. I suspect their fitter saw that it was nice weather and used the app to clear the appointments for the afternoon.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why should the "billpayer" fund the replacement of these meters, they are revenue measuring devices owned by the power company. The Power company or its shareholders should pay for the replacement, and the CEO should be sacked, or receive no bonuses for 5 years.

    1. Annihilator

      Because ultimately the consumers pay for the operating costs of the company, that's how markets work. I'm also not sure sacking the CEO who's probably the 3rd or 4th successor to the guy at the helm when the roll-out started is going to help - particularly when the government were the ones mandating it happen.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Sack the CEO on principle. If additional reasons are needed they can be attended to later.

  12. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Why aren't they talking about the advantages?

    About 3 million smart meters cannot currently be remotely hacked and another 7 million will be similarly secured when 2G/3G shuts down.

    1. lidgaca-2
      FAIL

      Re: Why aren't they talking about the advantages?

      That's how I look at it ...

      I installed solar panels ... and was told that I needed to have a new smart meter installed to get a export tariff.

      Meter installed ... The situation is that it works for about 2 - 3 weeks, passing readings to Octopus. Then the signal drops out for a bit and the DCC can't be arsed to notice when it is restored. The DCC put my meter on their 'not working' list, and now Octopus don't get any more reading for the next 2 - 3 months. Octopus then write to me to inform me that *I* haven't sent them any meter readings recently, so they are sending me an estimated bill ...

      I send incendiary email to Octopus ...

      Octopus then inform the DCC of the problem. The DCC fiddles with something at their end. Readings work for the next 2 - 3 weeks. Rinse and repeat (I think we're on the 3rd cycle of this now ...).

      As for the 'in-houe-display' ... I've got no idea. From the time of installation it only gave readings for about 1 hour out of 10 so I threw it in the bin. I get my electricity usage data from the raspberry pi / grafana / inverter reader that I installed when the panels went it.

      I'd like to see how Octopus are ever going to use my smart meter to brown me out, or to implement surge pricing to my property. From what I can see this waste-of-time won't have any impact on me (beyond raising my blood pressure ...). It's way too unreliable.

    2. nobody who matters

      Re: Why aren't they talking about the advantages?

      ,"..........About 3 million smart meters cannot currently be remotely hacked and another 7 million will be similarly secured when 2G/3G shuts down......>

      The word 'currently' is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence.

  13. Lee D Silver badge

    Still waiting for mine. Every couple of months I ask again.

    I'm on a radio teleswitch meter which, for those who don't know, is controlled by a radio signal from Droitwich, which operates on giant valves, which fail after a period of time. The complete worldwide stock of those valves has been purchased by the BBC to run just that radio station, nobody else makes them or could make them any more, and they have said that when the last valve dies, they will shut it down, and thus every teleswitch meter with it.

    So you'd think they'd be scrambling to move those customers to smart meters. Nope. Refused every time. And teleswitch meters can only be sensibly handled by a few electricity providers.

    Instead each year they see if they still have a spare valve, push the termination date forward another year, cross their fingers and hope. It's happened half a dozen times to my knowledge, despite regular statements that they would start migrating all customers and that Year 20XX would be a deadline for such, and then they just do nothing, blow through the deadline, and will likely cry like babies when it turns off and they demand access to my home to upgrade me to a smart meter.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      I suppose the Droitwich transmitter could be replaced could be replaced by one using these transistor thingies. I hear they work quite well.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        BBC have said absolutely not - they will be de-commissioning not only the radio, but the site, all the services running on it (including longwave services) and everything reliant on it.

        Basically, it's a legacy usage to try to cover the entire country with a single transmitter - and that's just not compatible with modern processes any more. That's why the only equipment connected to it is still valve-based, they've never upgraded it, not even a little bit.

        They have no plan, budget or intention to do anything but shrug and say "Told you so" because it's been "being decommissioned" for decades now.

        1. cyberdemon Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Next year's headline

          Trident sub launches nukes at Russia, China, etc. because they could no longer listen to the Shipping Forecast on Radio 4 Longwave. World to end in 16 minutes

        2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          plus ça change

          "Basically, it's a legacy usage to try to cover the entire country with a single transmitter - and that's just not compatible with modern processes any more."

          It is, however, completely compatible with modern planning.

    2. Mike 125

      Wars change everything

      https://chng.it/NNkNpT5ZQF

      It's worth a 'shot'.

      And the BBC has no budget for *anything* now- all the creatives are being laid off. As usual, in the UK we like to get rid of our strengths.

      On a related waveband: in recent months, there's been a surge in demand on eBay for SW-capable radio.

      High quality little '70s, '80s sets, made in Japan by Toshiba, Sony, etc., are fetching 10x what they were a few years ago. Missed a real bargain- sooo annoying.

  14. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

    I like my smart meter

    Well I would wouldn't I?

    I have solar panels & a battery (so effecitvely pre-paying for £10k worth of electricity) and it allows me to easily sell power back to the grid.

    As it happens I 'make' more money by using the solar generated power than by selling it back, but every little helps.

    In house dispaly - don't use it; it can't connect to the meters anywhere where I would want the IHD to go, however there are apps available that let you see your meter readings half hourly and give useful historic data, so that's good enough (I hardly ever view them these days)

    I always thought the standing charge was there to pay for infrastructure and meters/meter reading... so why do we need to pay extra for newer meters?

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: I like my smart meter

      And don't forget the standing charge cap has just been raised by OFGEM.

    2. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

      Re: I like my smart meter

      I have a PV array too, and no smart meter. I'm paid for every kWh I generate, and paid FiT for 50% of them as it's assumed 50% was returned to the gird.

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: I like my smart meter

      I have a small amateur solar setup but not for cost reasons.

      - Resiliency

      - Independence

      - Fun

      It doesn't "feed back", it's entirely isolated. And it runs my "critical" things - CCTV cameras, computers, entertainment, router, etc. Basically it's like a giant solar UPS, in effect. All my stuff rides out power cuts and all I've had neighbours knock and ask how my lights, computers, etc. are still active and nobody else's are. Because when the whole town blacked out, I just switched on the lamp that's connected to that circuit, and carried on playing my online game which didn't even jitter.

      And now I don't have to be subservient to any electricity provider. They overcharged me ludicrously (2x actual usage) when I first moved in. So I refunded EVERY month after giving an actual reading, and spent it on solar. I plan to be utility-independent by retirement, and I'm starting with electricity because that's the easy one. I don't even care if my solar costs me more than their electricity per unit. I don't have it for that. I have it so that THEY don't get my money for their poor service (blackouts, cost increases, poor metering, etc.).

      Plus... it's fun to set up a solar setup for a geek. Part of which is monitoring it and tweaking it. Which I do with RS485. Smart meters are of no interest to me (except to get me off this ridiculous antiquated tariff and stop me having to read my own meters each month). But as things expand I will be putting my own meter into the fusebox (DIN rail meters are pretty cheap, and I could have one on each circuit if I wanted). And it will all plug into Home Assistant, so I can check usage anywhere in the world, not just my front room, and not requiring useless apps and meters that go obsolete.

      I don't think utilities understand what they're setting themselves up for now that home solar is not just viable but actively profitable at scale. The worse their service becomes now, the quicker they will die and become irrelevant.

      Hell, I've got my eye on an incinerator toilet (all-electric, no water, burns your waste down to sterile ash) and a greywater filtration system (£1000, pumps your water butt into a loft header tank and you can keep things separate and flush with greywater, or you can build what is basically a giant pond filter / UV / osmosis system and get free water forever more. I'd honestly rather suffer that complication and expense than give Thames Water another penny.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: incinerator toilet (all-electric, no water, burns your waste down to sterile ash)

        somehow I've got this vision of a huge furnace roaring under my exposed bum. Hope the rubber seals are tight?!

        1. Bebu Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: incinerator toilet (all-electric, no water, burns your waste down to sterile ash)

          Exactly what I thought. Ideal for incinerating the world's shitty arseholes (as in involuntary cremation normally only extended to witches and heretics.)

        2. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: incinerator toilet (all-electric, no water, burns your waste down to sterile ash)

          The "kiln" part of the toilet is behind and isolated... the seat is literally just a seat which the waste goes into (into a bag, normally), and that bag is then moved into the incinerator kiln part and burns for HOURS until its ash. And normally you can continue queuing up multiple bags and keep using the loo and they just pushed into the kiln by the system and it just increases the time it burns for.

          Common on ships and oil rigs and places like that.

      2. Bebu Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: I like my smart meter

        《Hell, I've got my eye on an incinerator toilet (all-electric, no water, burns your waste down to sterile ash) and a greywater filtration system (£1000, pumps your water butt into a loft header tank and you can keep things separate and flush with greywater, or you can build what is basically a giant pond filter / UV / osmosis system and get free water forever more. I'd honestly rather suffer that complication and expense than give Thames Water another penny.》

        From what I read you would want to feed Thames Water's product into your giant pond filter as its water is said to sit between sewerage and greywater - hardly a sweet point. Water from the actual Thames river might be closer to potable. :(

        Reverse osmosis can require a lot of water so distillation could be more practical.

    4. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: I always thought the standing charge was there to pay for infrastructure

      Well that's what they say, to justify hiking it every time the energy cap changes. But only the most naive actually believe that. It's just another way of increasing profit that isn't touched by Ofwat.

      Seriously, Ofwat should be setting the standing charge and unit rate. Energy provision is an essential, national service. If you can't do it at the set rates, goodbye, you can't be in the energy business here.

      But that requires political will to do the right thing for the country instead of a few private companies and their shareholders. And no, the argument "but your pension is a sharedholder" is not a good argument. Fund managers should always be moving the stakes to the best performing investments. If that ceases to be the energy supplies, so what?

    5. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: I like my smart meter

      The standing charge is mostly to pay for failed suppliers who spent all their money on bonuses instead of hedging.

  15. John Robson Silver badge

    Alternatively...

    They could deploy something like the Octopus Home Mini.

    Which reads data from the meter's local network, and connects over your home broadband to the supplier.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Alternatively...

      Which reads data from the meter's local network, and connects over your home broadband to the supplier.

      Octopus tried to flog me this. I told them there would be a £10/day standing charge for the use of my broadband and creation of a dedicated DMZ for their service. They hung up.

      1. Oneman2Many

        Re: Alternatively...

        The home mini is free, up to you if you want one or not, doesn't do anything aside from offering more granular reporting.

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Alternatively...

        A dedicated network is fine, it won't care one bit.

        But since there is (was?) a waiting list for them, and they don't charge, I'm not buying the "flog" comment at all.

    2. Vestas

      Re: Alternatively...

      OHM currently requires a change in law/electricity suppliers licencing terms before Octopus can use it for billing purposes.

      This was clarified at a recent Ombudsman hearing where an end-user lost connectivity from smart metering and was in the Arqiva area (so not using 3G). Octopus/Ombudsman stated that it was illegal to use a OHM for meter readings/billing purposes alone.

      In the future when the English* have fucked up the replacement of meters then who knows, but for now Octopus are not permitted to use the OHM for billing purposes.

      *who are incapable of any sort of engineering competence these days.

      1. Oneman2Many

        Re: Alternatively...

        Not correct, I'm being billed (and being paid export) via reading sent by my home mini device right now.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My water company decided to fit smart meters to the whole street, so they could double everybody's bills.

    Then the gas company dug up the pavement to replace some pipes and when they relaid it, they didn't replace the access panels for the water meters. So now my meter and stopcock are buried under 2ft of earth, hardcore and tarmac. It will be interesting to see whether it still works and whether the water company can read it.

    1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

      I approached my water company to get a meter.. "Not enough pipe to install a meter". Roll on a few years later "you must have a water meter fitted", so I contacted them and asked what had changed since their guy had been out and said one couldn't be installed.. "oh."

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      I moved house and got a water bill for approximately 10 times my normal usage.

      I demanded a water meter.

      Surprise, surprise, my bill was literally decimated. No idea what the previous guy was doing, or whether they've just been overcharging that property by 10x for decades, but they weren't going to do it to me.

      In fact, it was so good that the account credit from those first few months overpayment is STILL covering my water bill (and will for a while yet) nearly 18 months later. I reckon another 6 months usage before I pay another penny (my Direct Debit is literally £0 at the moment and has been for 18 months).

      1. Noram

        From memory non metered water bills are based on the rateable value of the property pre council tax.

        So a large property that was high rates in the 80's is assumed to use a massive amount of water (as a high rate house could be 8 bedrooms in a bad area at the time, or on the other side of town in a better area 4 bedrooms and a nice garden).

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          It was a tiny one-bed bungalow with single occupancy, ever since it was built in the 60's.

          The council tax rate doesn't reflect anything like that - it was just a scam based on ridiculous figures however it was come by.

          Water meter is pretty much the only way to tell, however, and removed all profit from Thames Water (which I'm not even a tiny bit sad about).

          Told my neighbours, so it's up to them what they do with that information.

    3. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      The English who are capable of any sort of engineering incompetence these days.

      That is how I read the penultimate poster's《English who are incapable of any sort of engineering competence these days.》

      Only to be rewarded with a Baldrick of a cockup in the next post.

      《So now my meter and stopcock are buried under 2ft of earth, hardcore and tarmac.》

      Blackadder: "Baldrick, who are we not home to?"

      Baldrick: "Mr Cockup, sir."

      Sounds like open house to me.

  17. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    I'm sure it's all been carefully planned

    Despite every. single. shred. of evidence screaming otherwise.

  18. Andy Non Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Mine's only just started working!

    Shell Energy installed it a few years ago and they never got the in home display to work. Had to report the fault to them 8 times before they even acknowledged the problem and further 2 times before they shrugged and said it was beyond their capability to fix it. Shell Energy customers have just been taken over by Octopus Energy... I reported the fault to them (once) and they fixed it remotely straight away! Says a lot about both Shell's customer service and that of Octopus!

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Mine's only just started working!

      I'll just add that Shell sent me marketing emails promoting their broadband service... couldn't stop laughing.

  19. cantankerous swineherd

    He later studied at Exeter College in the University of Oxford, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Modern History in 1995. He later went on to graduate with a Master of Philosophy in Economics and Social History with distinction in 1997 from the same college.

    - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Pocklington

    he'll be all over this then!

    ensuring that all smart meters and comms hubs are remotely firmware upgradable defining technical standards based on business requirements

    "remotely firmware upgradable" sounds like a fantastic opportunity for hostile nation states to cripple their opponents. blundering fools from crapita likewise...

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: he'll be all over this then!

      He's clearly overqualified for the job. He graduated, twice. For true gibbering, drooling incompetence, they need to find an art school dropout, or someone who pretends they're fluent in Latin.

      1. Bebu Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: he'll be all over this then!

        《For true gibbering, drooling incompetence, they need to find an art school dropout, or someone who pretends they're fluent in Latin.》

        Boris then?

        fluent < flowing as in effluent, pretend latin as in shite. Ideal match I should have thought.

  20. that one in the corner Silver badge

    subsidiary of Capita

    That is never a good sign.

  21. steviebuk Silver badge

    Also

    Why, when I took the dog for a work the other day along the farmers fields, and I get to the big massive mobile mast, can I stand next to the mast and still not get cocking 5G!

    Always said smart meters were bollocks. They've been misread over the years and unless you take a record the energy companies keep your money. Not only that but the bullshit "Get a smart meter, then we'll never have to send round a meter reader" turns out to be bollocks. We've had one twice in a year and turns out its a legal requirement to check you're not fiddling the meter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also

      Why, when I took the dog for a work the other day along the farmers fields, and I get to the big massive mobile mast, can I stand next to the mast and still not get cocking 5G!

      Because there's no point in the aerials sending signals straight down into the earth. The radiation pattern is designed for coverage around the mast, not above or below it. Something that panicking Mumsnet users should consider when ranting about masts on the roofs of schools giving their poor Jacinta cancer.

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Also

        My point was, they have that big massive mast with severial aerials on it, yet still haven't stuck a 5G one on it.

        1. PB90210 Bronze badge

          Re: Also

          What does a 5G mast look like?

          There have been stories from around the world (Inc UK) of people taking down '5G masts' in places where they don't even have 5G

          1. tip pc Silver badge

            Re: Also

            There have been stories from around the world (Inc UK) of people taking down '5G masts' in places where they don't even have 5G

            is that because they've destroyed the masts?

  22. Herring`

    Smart?

    An actual "smart" meter would be able to switch providers in real time based upon costs. Hell, it could even allow you to play in the balancing market and get paid for using (or not using) electricity. Not going anywhere tomorrow? Offer 50% of your EV battery. What we have now does not meet my definition of "smart".

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Smart?

      They're not smart - never have been. They're merely half hourly meters.

      However what you can do with a half hourly meter is worth the hassle, particularly if you can add a battery to take max advantage of off peak pricing.

      My average unit cost last year (2023), including the standing charge, was 7.5p - this year is already looking cheaper.

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Smart?

      And has such a shit battery in it, it needs to be always plugged in.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the UK government is still failing to clarify ways

    basically, they're waiting to hand over this hot potato (and all other hot potatoes) to future labour government. Do I blame them? Well, do I blame ANY government for their numerous misactions and unactions? As their nominal employer, I actually do. Trouble is, if I fire this lot, the other lot looks at least as incompetent / corrupt / clueless.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SMART = DUMB

    Meters, motorways and no doubt much more. They've tried pushing us into having one repeatedly, thus far we've managed to upload our monthly readings manually without an issue, do I want a SMART meter? Hell no, too many fires caused by arcing relays, and shite installations, puts them in the too blood dangerous catagory. So glad I didn't become a 'meter-mechanition' back in the day.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: SMART = DUMB

      Non-technical ministers use the same business planning method as non-technical managers: believing the salesman.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: SMART = DUMB

      Smart meters are not a significant fire risk.

      You're clearly buying the fud from someone, but I don't know who.

  25. 43300 Silver badge

    "Pocklington addressed the PAC recommendations to set out measures ensuring the newer installations are future-proofed. "The department continues to work on future-proofing the smart metering technology," he said."

    This is bollocks. It's not possible to 'future-proof' (whatever that phrase actually means) complex devices which use a technology which is continually evolving.

    A saucepan is 'future-proof', or even a (non-smart) fridge or washing machine, as they will carry on doing what they are designed to do until they wear out. This does not apply to things using communication networks, such as smart meters.

    1. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      'future-proof'

      The problem from the outset is that the future is displaying every likelihood on not being 'future-proof' itself.

      Even a saucepan wouldn't be totally future proof if our imbecile decendants couldn't even make a fire.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      I'd suggest that ethernet is probably about as future proof as we need.

      I can still plug my device into a 10Mb hub and it will work... If only there was some way of maintaining a secure connection across the internet... hmm.

  26. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    I got one of these in Australia a few months back, its amazing how nobody thought that making a two part device rather than a one box does everything might be a bad idea because of stuff like this.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Mine is in two parts, the comms module is on top of the meter itself.

      I imagine many are, even if most people don't notice that fact - of course it would require an updated module to be installed...

  27. Ilmarinen

    Simples - Just change the SIM

    The reality is that millions of smart meters contain a SIM card that connects to 2G and 3G wireless networks, and second-generation devices will be able to upgrade and connect to 4G with provision of a new SIM from 2025.

    And there's me was thinking that the "4G" bit needed a 4G radio, not just a "new SIM". I guess that I can now upgrade my old phone to 4G - or even 5G - all I needs is a new SIM from Tescos ;-)

    1. Norfolk N Chance

      Re: Simples - Just change the SIM

      Absolutely - the new 6.1g eSIM actually contains the new radio as a totally new SMART (TM) software upgradable web-app. Or something. Unfortunately the new format is not compatible with existing "legacy" SIM card slots ...

      Reading through the comments to this article in entirety returns neatly to the first -

      newer != better

    2. ARGO
      Facepalm

      Re: Simples - Just change the SIM

      Indeed. Strange that the mobile networks haven't used this route to shift all their customers off 2G/3G handsets ahead of those networks being turned off.

      /s

  28. Vestas

    Time of Use tariffs

    For those of you still living in the past re electricity tariffs, try taking a look at these sites :

    https://agile.octopushome.net/dashboard

    https://tracker.octopushome.net/dashboard

    If you don't have a battery to load shift then Agile can still reduce your bills provided you mainly avoid 1600-1900. Agile prices change every 30 minutes.

    Octopus Tracker prices change daily so are suited for people with no battery. Also it cuts the gas tariff by 40%. Complete no-brainer and has cut my daughter's bill by 46%.....

    I'm currently averaging 9.4p/unit over the last 6 months on Agile imports.

    NB - those tariffs are free to change, no tie-in or penalty so if there's another "Ukraine gas moment" then you can change to flat rate tariffs instantly.

    1. Norfolk N Chance

      Re: Time of Use tariffs

      It's great that this is an option for those willing to pursue it, and no doubt this audience are more likely than most to be receptive to this.

      But as a country-wide solution? I suspect a very small percentage of domestic consumers are going to be content to check a website every evening to decide what time to cook dinner, shower etc over the following 24 hours.

      No doubt there's an app, an IFTTT recipe, Raspberry Pi script et al to automate all this too - to which I would say just re-read above, substituting [maintain another system every month] in place of [ check a website every evening].

      One of the UK's greatest mistakes was to uncouple energy supply from distribution and allow "competition" IMO, exceptionally short-sighted. Ditto utilities.

      Sigh.

      1. Vestas

        Re: Time of Use tariffs

        I quite agree with you and that's why I said Tracker was a no-brainer.

        My daughter has nothing other than an aged smartmeter and has pretty much zero interest in looking at websites every day to find out what time is cheapest :)

        The tracker electricity tariff is usually 30-40% lower than SVR (Octopus flexible) and gas is usually 40% lower than SVR. Gas price stays pretty much the same every day, electricity varies.

        The other big suppliers are starting to do the same sort of things but for now Octopus is the only game in town - which is a shame because their customer service is utterly crap (1000% increase in complaints year on year).....

        Mainly the post was to show that there are actually some benefits starting to appear from the smart meter fiasco, rather than a totally pointless in-house display which is all smart meters have offered in the UK until fairly recently.

        1. Norfolk N Chance

          Re: Time of Use tariffs

          I don't disagree - today at least - but as the thrust of the original article goes, tomorrow is only around the corner and there are a lot of them (we hope).

          So while it just works today on the assumption that you are winning if you avoid energy intensive tasks between 4-7pm, unless you are going to check the website regularly you won't know if that window changes.

          Obviously it will change over time, as other consumers join the tariff. Also usage habits will vary according to daylight and weather, which will also affect the prices as solar & wind production change too.

          So I feel it's fair to say it's not exactly a fire-and-forget no-brainer.

          Incidentally I am your original upvoter, simply because it was an interesting point and prompted me to read about an existing surge pricing solution for myself, rather than some potted media version.

          1. Vestas

            Re: Time of Use tariffs

            Indeed it will change but for now its more of a carrot than a stick. That might change, depends on politics more than cost frankly.

            Incidentally your original response mentioned decoupling of generation/supply. One of the reasons Octo can offer these tariffs is because they own an increasing amount of wind/bio/solar generation which makes them pretty much the only one of the mass suppliers to be spending on new generation capacity.

            Don't know if you've also noticed but Octopus/EON/others are increasingly entering the market for installing/managing home battery storage. Why you'd want to turn over complete control of your generation/storage to your supplier is beyond me but I guess it appeals to the mass market. Personally I think its the next financial scandal just waiting to happen :)

            There's a lot going on now which wasn't ten years ago, not sure its been entirely worth the ride so far but you never know....

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Time of Use tariffs

              I've not given them control over my batteries - but I wouldn't have a problem with it in theory - I'd just want better terms than I can get by managing them myself.

              I don't actually care where each electron comes from, but if they export from my battery and that leaves me importing later... then I want (export payment - RTE - import cost) to be well in my favour.

              Grid stabilisation is a key driver here. If, out of the ~30m UK households 10% had batteries, and 10% of those were willing to having them externally controlled then that's ~1.5GW of load/demand which can be controlled, giving a 3GW swing - or a 3GW window that the grid needs to balance. Obviously it's not that much power for an infinite time period, but it's a substantial balancing capability.

              1.5GW is in the top 5 power stations in the UK... That's a HUGE amount of grid balancing capability.

              At the moment my cheap hours are somewhat variable to suit Octopus... and the whole house responds accordingly, because yes I have automation on things - it's one of the things that really brings my average electron cost down.

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Time of Use tariffs

          "Octopus is the only game in town - which is a shame because their customer service is utterly crap"

          I've had nothing but good interactions with their customer service, in fact I'm yet to come across anyone who has had bad experiences with them.

          Friend of mine switched from a competitor (who insisted that she didn't have a gas meter) to octopus and had metered data within days.

      2. Oneman2Many

        Re: Time of Use tariffs

        You'll be saving money even if you.carry on your current usage patterns unless you.have.some weird usage patterns. There is the opportunity to save more by changing usage patterns if you want to.

  29. Zibob Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Magic firmware updates

    I want them!

    "Pocklington wrote this week: "At the earliest stages of the Smart Metering Implementation Programme, we designed technology evolution into the system architecture by ensuring that all smart meters and comms hubs are remotely firmware upgradable and defining technical standards based on business requirements rather than specific technologies.""

    So all this time I was hoodwinked upgrading my phone for 4 and 5g, indeed I could have probably been using a Nokia 3310 still if only they had provided these magic updates that can download hardware.

    This forward thinking is revolutionary. Just imagine the future it makes possible. I could download an update for my oven that makes it an air fryer....

    And these morons are in charge of the money. Great.

  30. pctechxp

    Replaceable modems

    Would it not have made sense to have manufactured these with plug in replaceable cellular modems to allow the component to be replaced as required?

    Yes, they'd have to had to have someone come to replace them every so often but seems a bit more cost efficient, no?

    Am only having one whrn they become mandatory as it only takes one slip of a mouse by a berk in a call centre to switch you off by mistake.

    1. Vestas

      Re: Replaceable modems

      They were.

      The comms unit is seperate/detachable from the metering unit. For SMETS2 meters they just change the comms unit.

      However the SMETS1 meters need replacing anyway so they may as well do both at once in that instance.

      1. Oneman2Many

        Re: Replaceable modems

        OFGEM state that smart meter are physically inspected every 5 years, would be a good opportunity to upgrade them.

  31. Snowy Silver badge
    Joke

    Smart meters

    So good they are worth buying two or even three times.

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