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September 15, 2015updated 30 Aug 2016 12:18pm

Over 100k UK smart meters don’t work

Experts warn of no second chance to get things right as thousands of smart meters fail to function.

By Joao Lima

Thousands of smart IoT meters already deployed in British households have been found not to be working differently from traditional solutions.

Over 1.3 million devices have already been deployed across the country, but 134,200 are not acting as smart meters due poor network coverage and problems when customers change their provider, figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have shown.

In a report it said: "The number of smart meters operating in smart mode at the end of quarter two 2015 (1,193,200) is less than the total number of smart meters installed to date (1,327,400)."

Under Government’s £11 billion plans to roll out the technology in the coming years, smart meters are being installed into people’s homes but problems are occurring due to "technical issues preventing the meter from operating in smart mode".

The DECC explained that some problems occur due to the meter’s inability "to communicate externally via the wide area network", and "customers switching supplier where the new supplier is currently unable to operate inherited smart meters in smart mode".

The smart meter technology being installed in British households costs around £200 per home, according to The Telegraph. The costs of the modernisation are split throughout all clients via their energy bills.

The news sparked a set of reactions from the industry from the technology usage to the security side of smart meters.

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Tim Faulkner, VP of EMEA at ClickSoftware, told CBR: "One of the biggest issues with this roll-out is it’s not mandatory for consumers, which can lead to a high no-show rate with consumers booking appointments and not being there when the engineer arrives.

"This can cause serious delays and further complications when it comes to re-booking another appointment. Energy providers can solve this by creating a direct engagement between the engineer and the consumer. This involves allowing customers to track where the engineer is and when they are likely to arrive so they can ensure they are home.

"Consumers are a lot more connected than ever before and expect transparency and a quick response when dealing with companies now and energy providers should be no different."

Adrian Crawley, director of Northern Europe for Radware, also told CBR: "Testing any new service or product that is built from IoT concepts is imperative because we have to give the customer assurances from the start that they work and they are secure. But it’s not just about the technology it’s how the different companies involved in smart meters work together to put in place the policies that manage the customer’s experience from billing to security.

"Trust will come from a service that works and is inherently secure, where there are no assumptions on who takes responsibility on security. This means not just testing a product before launch but building these elements in at the very early stages of design."

Angus Panton, director of power and communications at SQS, added that a solution for the switching issue is not expected until late 2016. "So until then customers must make the choice of remaining with their current supplier or switching, without knowing whether or not their existing smart meter technology will continue to work."

He continued: "Despite some cynicism, there is an overall desire for the advantages and benefits that smart meters can ultimately deliver. Consumers want targeted, value-added services and greater control over their energy use, but don’t always trust their existing provider to deliver.

"It is vital energy suppliers have the high performing, integrated infrastructure in place to capture, secure and make the most of the real-time data they generate, all day, every day, for both new and existing customers. Now is the time for suppliers to test everything, and then test it again – or turn to the experts who can test it for them. There won’t be a second chance to get this right."

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