The roll-out of gas and electricity smart meters in the UK is proceeding at such a slow pace that it will take 19 years before the program will be complete at the current rate.
That is according to the latest figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which show that as of the end of September, 4.9 million smart meters were live in homes and businesses across the UK.
That was an increase of just 700,000 in the quarter, implying that it will take 19 years to finish the roll-out to the 53 million or so premises across the country.
The roll-out has been hampered by a series of mistakes. These include rushing out over-complicated specifications, the Smart Meter Equipment Technical Specification (SMETS), before they were finished. As a result, some suppliers started rolling out "smart-type meters without the full functionalities included in SMETS", according to the report. Those meters will need to be replaced in three years.
On top of that, the Data Communications Company, which is supposed to correlate the minute-by-minute usage data from millions of smart meters and send them on to the appropriate power company, is late. Those systems are being built by ultra-competent outsourcer Capita, which has missed a series of deadlines.
Despite lacking in terms of these crucial elements of infrastructure, the old Department for Energy and Climate Change insisted that the roll-out should go ahead anyway.
On top of all that, GCHQ was also forced to intervene early on to prevent the implementation of a chronically insecure security scheme, which could have compromised the electricity and gas meters of everyone in the UK. It is still yet to be confirmed that smart meters are fully secure as cyber attacks continue to grow.
The Inquirer's own Chris Merriman, a smart home enthusiast, is an early user. But Merriman has found his device to be anything but smart, with the Zigbee communications protocol, for example, interfering with other wireless devices in the home.
"I hate my smart meter. It's Zigbee and interferes with everything, which for a smarthome nerd like me is irritating. Also, the Zigbee protocol is closed. It isn't compatible with any other Zigbee products, including Hive which uses its own proprietary version of Zigbee," said Merriman.
The smart meter connectivity problems mirror that of other supposedly smart products, added Merriman. "It's no different with Z-Wave. D-Link, for example, won't let anyone else's products on their Z-Wave hub. It's infuriating and, ultimately, really short-sighted because it will only put people off."
Other users complain that their smart meter doesn't even communicate with the power company, either because they are in a mobile ‘not spot', or because they have changed supplier and the new supplier is unable to accommodate data from the ‘old' smart meter.
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