Penalised for having no mobile signal

Where I live there is no mobile signal so cannot have a smart meter, what are plans to make the meters more smart and use wifi when available?

IMO it really is a joke that smart meters don’t use WiFi in the first place - It would mean that the DCC (who has proven there incompetence) isn’t needed, the amount of data used by the smart meters would be miniscule so that wouldn’t be a concern, If a WiFi signal isn’t available, the meters could have powerline adapters built into them in order to send a wired signal to the router. The amount of bandwidth would also be much higher on a wifi signal, allowing for reads every minute or that sort of thing. I know bulb is not responsible, but it would be interesting to know why this wasn’t done.

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There’s a lot of reasons why they probably didn’t pick user provided WiFi:

  • Many customers may not have Wifi connections (especially elderly)
  • Configuration might be a b*tch (they meters would need keypads to be able to select the correct Wifi connection and enter the password: and some people like changing theirs reasonably often - and WPS isn’t that reliable)
  • Ethernet-over-power may not be possible due to consumer distribution boards(fuse boxes) as they could corrupt the data (I’ve lived in a house where because an extension was on a separate circuit from the same fuse box, we could use it there)
  • Reliability: It’ll be quite easy for people to filter/deny access to the meter data (say in the case of remote disconnections) Also makes working out who/what is responsible a bit harder as it’ll have to be DCC<>Supplier, Supplier<>Customer, Customer<>ISP, ISP<>OpenReach : at least in theory this should be currently Customer>Supplier<>DCC
  • Security: Higher possibility of somebody doing a “man in the middle” attack and modifying data if it’s passing over a consumer’s internal network

Yes, the system could have been designed a lot better (multiple different networks used for example, own radio frequency allocation etc etc) - but I’m guessing after the emergency services £3.1billion overspend on their new wireless communication network (Emergency Services Network - ESN) which was meant to come online in 2017 and is still delayed until next year - and governmental pressure to at least be seen to be “doing something green” - using a basic mobile signal connection was the “cheapest/easiest” option for now for the government appointed Capita (who run the Smart DCC network all meters used)

Hey @Boblemon :wave:

So the smart network is made up of Home Area Network and Wider Area Network. WAN covers any distance necessary- I think this is the one you mean about the mobile signal, right?

If there’s no WAN coverage in your area, we won’t be able to commission the smart meters yet as they won’t have the coverage needed to achieve this like you mentioned. Smart meters run on a dedicated secure smart network that is provided by and managed by the Data Communications Company (DCC). If there isn’t sufficient WAN in your area, this will be updated in time by the DCC so fingers crossed it’ll be over the next year or so :crossed_fingers:

@izzyhunt - it’s a good question, I hadn’t really thought much about using WiFi separately, but looking at @RichyB 's response it seems some good points were made about the reliability or security, though I think you know quite a bit about online security aspects! So it would be interesting to hear what you think in response? :blush:

I think the likelihood is if a customer doesn’t have a WiFi connection in 2021, they wont be having a smart meter. WiFi is already required for the IHD to update and fix itself when things go wrong, as well as for usage graphs on mobile and the use of the API (from smartthings)

This is already done on the IHD, so configuration once again wouldn’t be an issue. Although passwords are supposed to be changed, i find that many find a secure password (or use the one on the router) and then dont touch it. Its an absolute nightmare reconnecting devices after a password change, But lets have a look:

  • I do change my WiFi password on a regular basis
  • I don’t change my WiFi password on a regular basis

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This is true if the meter was used as the powerline, But one again the IHD comes to have the day - This could be placed anywhere where a powerline connection was soutibile, or just moved where there is both a WiFi connection, and a Meter connection if powerline is not available

I think referencing reliability as a factor is a bit of a joke; I’m sure even bulb staff would agree that the SmartDCC network has been anything but reliable for some customers. Even finding the blame (always the dcc lol) still leads the an 8-week turnaround time to reset a connection. If i ring BT and say there’s an issue with my connection, there’s an engineer out the next day. I think that my countryside connection has a better reliability that the meters kicking themselves of the network then requiring a 8 week reset. I’m not sure what the point of denying access to the meter through firewalls would be? It would just act as a dumb meter, something that the customer doesn’t want, and indeed what @Boblemon wants is to be able to connect to the network, not block themselves from it. The point of smart meters isn’t to allow remote disconnections. That’s not something that is done even now. PAYG meters have a set credit amount that they switch off without asking bulb to do so. @holly_at_bulb Are Smart credit meters used to cut connections to customers?

Let’s think about the traffic that’s going though bulbs smart meters at the moment. Smart reads, uptime info, connection info. What traffic would someone want to intercept? Oh there going to send a false read of 999999KwH? what would that do for them? a bit of a troll that bulbs system would immediately flag as incorrect (there system is already over sensitive as it is). Smart PAYG meters would receive transaction info to add credit to the meter, but this would be a case of the customer adding credit to there own meter if they managed that. On Top of this, we aren’t talking about some google messages type stuff where there’s no encryption, The encryption that would be used for the meters would be immense. Not something that you could just grab and modify. There would be check in every step if this was implemented to make sure the data hadn’t been modified.

Edit: just to add this:

I’m not even sure why there trying to do this. In Airwaves 21 years of service, there was 1 incident where they had difficulty using it. I suppose it was to lower ongoing costs, but has honestly just cost them more trying to change it.