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So I spent my e-Niro-waiting-months learning from this forum & joined up with an energy supplier offering agile smart tariffs. I bought a discounted Ohme cable and registered my interest in a smart meter so I’d be ready for cheap charging. So far so Yorkshire.

My e-Niro is now at the dealer, so I chase up the energy supplier for my smart meter only to discover that I can’t have a SMETS2 smart meter as the WAN isn’t accessible from my village due to the proximity of an RAF base and its comms tower.

Now I can see that flight safety is a higher priority than my saving a few quid, but I was surprised that I’d got this far down the line only to find my Ohme cable will be sub-smart charging for some time yet… The RAF base is in the process of closing down so my charging & I may get smarter with age.

An appropriate SMETS1 would do the job presumably, but I understand these are no longer being installed because they don’t count towards suppliers’ rollout figures.

The only potential interim solution seems to be installing an Eco(nomy) 7 meter. I have no experience of my EV charging needs to draw on, but working the maths back from an estimate of doing 10,000 miles a year means there might be a modest saving to be made. I’m pending on my supplier confirming their proposed Eco7 tariffs before I know whether to proceed.

The supplier’s customer service has been very communicative & they have put the effort in to find answers for me. They’ve also booked in a provisional Eco7 meter installation for a few days’ time. I just feel that if I’d known more than “the majority of households can have smart meters” I might have avoided the Ohme cable spend… but then I might have missed out on the discount if it's withdrawn.

Anyway, I share the story in case it helps someone somewhere... probably someone somewhere near an airfield.
 
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Is that true? There should be no interference from military radio on GSM/PCS signals.

What do you say? Do you have a mobile 'phone, does it work?

RAF stations are not usually placed in heavily populated areas so they might well be in an area with bad or non existent reception on some networks. It may be that the SMETS2 carrier is different to either your phone or the Ohme lead.

Suck it and see, is my advice (not literally, it is a big plug on that lead, you wouldn't get your mouth around it).

Power up your lead, it'll tell you on its little screen if it is connected to "the Borg".
 

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due to the proximity of an RAF base and its comms tower.
It's possible that has prevented the phone companies from installing cell towers in the vicinity. Once the base is gone they might put some in ... but I wouldn't hold my breath for it.
 

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Well I don't know that the restriction's directly connected to 'interference'; only that the provider of the SMETS2 WAN (separate to the standard mobile phone network that I believe SMETS1 uses) isn't available here "because of the comms tower at the RAF base". I understand Arquiva provide the SMETS2 WAN here in the north. We do have acceptable standard mobile telephony signal/s here and I'd guess that the same towers/hardware are used for both networks.

I did ask my wider neighbours on the Nextdoor app if anyone had had a SMETS2 installed and it sounded like those who have smart meters are on SMETS1.

Oh and if there were a prize to be won (an under-exploited Ohme cable perhaps) for best RAF-base-location-guess-based-on-available-clues, then t'would go to cah197.
 

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Trials should have started on the alternative dual band HAN (Home Area Network) meter this month. Due for roll out next year and adds about £25 to the cost of the meter. But it only changes the frequency of the Home Area Network. Guess you need the RAF base to close down so that the WAN can fire up in the same frequency band. I don't know the frequency of the WAN but likely to be around 430 MHz where the military who were there first have preference but are required to release spectrum they are not using.

Details here:


Comms unit as used in northern network is described here:


Seems to be on 412 and/or 424 MHz.

Only in the central and southern part of the country is the WAN network run over cellular which is around 860 MHz. More of the north south divide I fear. (n)
 

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Is that true? There should be no interference from military radio on GSM/PCS signals.

What do you say? Do you have a mobile 'phone, does it work?

RAF stations are not usually placed in heavily populated areas so they might well be in an area with bad or non existent reception on some networks. It may be that the SMETS2 carrier is different to either your phone or the Ohme lead.

Suck it and see, is my advice (not literally, it is a big plug on that lead, you wouldn't get your mouth around it).

Power up your lead, it'll tell you on its little screen if it is connected to "the Borg".
The SMARTS2 WAN is not on GSM frequencies in the north. So nothing to do with having mobile phone connectivity.
 

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Surely, given SMETS2 GSM meters exist, they can just install one of those if its an area where the "WAN" doesnt work?

@Mr_G Do you have any details on what "WAN" they are using in "the north"?
 

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Surely, given SMETS2 GSM meters exist, they can just install one of those if its an area where the "WAN" doesnt work?

@Mr_G Do you have any details on what "WAN" they are using in "the north"?
The comms box goes on top of the meter so the meter gets the comms that is right for the part of the country (network) it is in.

Sadly no, because they have no back haul agreement with the GSM networks.

The so called GSM solution is simply in the GSM band but does not use mobile phone systems. There are two frequency bands for actual GSM one for transmit and one for receive for the handsets. They are paired and 45 MHz apart so the dead band in the middle of the GSM band can be used for non-mobile phone applications like telemetry. This was done so a mobile phone does not need an expensive and bulky diplexer on the antenna. Also so a mobile phone on transmit close to another which is receiving does not cause overload to the sensitive small signal rf (radio frequency) front end electronics thanks to the frequency separation.

If you go here:


and enter 800 and 900 MHz you can see that 868 MHz (the frequency used for WAN in the south and central) is in the mobile phone 'dead' band and it is allocated for telemetry and other non-specific short range devices but not mobile phone use. So it is not used by the GSM mobile phone system but in the overall 'GSM' band.

Details of the comms boxes used in the north (including a block diagram) is in the last reference I gave earlier in the thread. It is around either 412 - 414 MHz uplink or 422- 424 MHz downlink .

Put 400 and 450 MHz on the Ofcom spectrum map and you can see the two band are allocated

The SMETS2 rollout is about numbers so they are not going to divert effort into solving a small number of special proximity interference cases at this stage. Being unable to use the UHF network since being close to military comms is a fairly local problem so it will be left unsolved for along time while they concentrate on standard roll-outs.

Hope this helps and not too technical to be difficult to follow.
 

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That's weird. The SMETS 2 meter I got from E.On has an O2 sim card in it.
Sorry that was me getting it wrong.

See here for correct info:


Central and Southern does use O2 2G/3G Cellular but it is all set up as a closed network. So while in the north there might be cellular coverage that does not mean there is a closed network set up that could be accessed.

The 868 MHz comms in the middle of the GSM band is not for the WAN but an alternative being developed for the HAN (Home Area Network ). The standard HAN is using 2.4 GHz WiFi with the Zigbee protocol.

In central and southern there is a mesh mode where a SMETS2 does not use cellular directly but reaches cellular via another SMETS2 meter.

It has proved hard to track down information as it is clear the amount of information released about the technical details of comms for the meters on the WAN side is very limited. Security is a big concern as it is technically possible to turn a meter off remotely and deny supply.
 

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I had SMETS2 meter installed recently. I live in south of London and yet there is no connectivity according to supplier.
I thought it was because of poor cellular signal, but if they are relying other SMETS2 meters to transmit the signal then it makes you wonder at what point does meter get connected to WAN and is it only dependent on settings of the Coms Hub or does it require additional hardware for it connect to WAN?

How do you check if unit has SIM card in it?
 

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So the southern meters do use actual Cellular connections, just like a mobile phone, and use O2 sim cards. So its real GSM/GPRS as i expected?

The "north" for whatever reason has decided that instead of using the pre-existing, ubiquitous cellular network, they'd instead setup their own system based on a lower frequency 414mhz system. Surely that just adds huge additional costs? You need a network of base stations all round the country to connect to these meters instead of just letting them using the cellular network.
 

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So the southern meters do use actual Cellular connections, just like a mobile phone, and use O2 sim cards. So its real GSM/GPRS as i expected?

The "north" for whatever reason has decided that instead of using the pre-existing, ubiquitous cellular network, they'd instead setup their own system based on a lower frequency 414mhz system. Surely that just adds huge additional costs? You need a network of base stations all round the country to connect to these meters instead of just letting them using the cellular network.
Depends on what you're being charged to use the existing network, limitations applied and long term viability of that agreement.
 

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I had SMETS2 meter installed recently. I live in south of London and yet there is no connectivity according to supplier.
I thought it was because of poor cellular signal, but if they are relying other SMETS2 meters to transmit the signal then it makes you wonder at what point does meter get connected to WAN and is it only dependent on settings of the Coms Hub or does it require additional hardware for it connect to WAN?

How do you check if unit has SIM card in it?
The meter should be able to do either mesh via another meter to the WAN or talk direct WAN using its own cellular. There is no mesh capability for the northern (north of Lincoln) region.

The cellular signal may be fine but if the private closed network infrastructure has not reached your local cell base station then that could be the cause of no connectivity.

The comms part of the meter is the box at the top of the meter. If it has SKU1 or SKU2 written on it then you have a unit which uses cellular comms thus there will be SIM card. They all use O2, so it is O2 cellular coverage that you need to check. I doubt if you would be able to directly access the SIM card as it will need to be anti-tamper proof since the SIM will be key to security and authentication so that the meter readings and control cannot be easily interfered with.

There are 34 checks to be made before a meter can go live. In some cases the installation may be completed remotely without another visit when the WAN comms infrastructure is ready and able to communicate with the meter. If it is a case of weak signal cellular comms then options exist with some kit to install with a larger antenna in order to boost the signal.

Something like 30% of installations are unable to go live straight away, so it is messy. The need for security makes the commissioning complex.

Personally I am not having any SMART meter until it is all more mature and settled. In any event EV charging does not get considered until SMETS3 comes out and that seems to be a long way off given the bumpy nature of the current roll-out.

If you have a SMART gas meter be aware it is battery powered (gas safety) and the battery will need changing for the unit to function. Battery life is planned to be about 15 years but might prove to be less. The SMART Gas Meter uses the Home Area Network HAN to talk back to the comms unit installed with the electricity meter.
 

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So the southern meters do use actual Cellular connections, just like a mobile phone, and use O2 sim cards. So its real GSM/GPRS as i expected?

The "north" for whatever reason has decided that instead of using the pre-existing, ubiquitous cellular network, they'd instead setup their own system based on a lower frequency 414mhz system. Surely that just adds huge additional costs? You need a network of base stations all round the country to connect to these meters instead of just letting them using the cellular network.

UHF has much greater range than GSM so the infrastructure is less dense. Somebody must have worked out that UHF could be cheaper than using cellular to even consider it.
 

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UHF has much greater range than GSM ...
I don't want to get picky but, FWIW, GSM is transmitted on UHF.

I think you just meant 'lower frequencies' and you're right about that. Over 800MHz and it is virtually line of sight.

(UHF; 300MHz to 3GHz
VHF; 30MHz to 300MHz)
 

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I don't want to get picky but, FWIW, GSM is transmitted on UHF.

I think you just meant 'lower frequencies' and you're right about that. Over 800MHz and it is virtually line of sight.

(UHF; 300MHz to 3GHz
VHF; 30MHz to 300MHz)

Yes you are quite right to be precise but I wanted to keep it simple.

Virtually line of sight over 800 MHz is a bit loose until you get up to microwaves because of multi-path. Something that the GSM system deals with very well. If it did not tame multipath with a dynamic equaliser then cellular radio would not work well at those frequencies. My students did not forget the practical where two stations were visual but could not communicate due to multi-path until an equaliser was put in circuit.
 

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So the southern meters do use actual Cellular connections, just like a mobile phone, and use O2 sim cards. So its real GSM/GPRS as i expected?

The "north" for whatever reason has decided that instead of using the pre-existing, ubiquitous cellular network, they'd instead setup their own system based on a lower frequency 414mhz system. Surely that just adds huge additional costs? You need a network of base stations all round the country to connect to these meters instead of just letting them using the cellular network.
I found this comment which is quite informative given that there seem to be a lot of poor UK cellular coverage areas where SMETS2 meters don't work correctly.

'In terms of the wide area connection, the country was divided into three areas. Telefonica won the award for two of them and are shipping comms hubs with GPRS. The Northern area was won by Arqiva, who are using their proprietary Flexnet solution. It’s probably a better option, although everyone is keeping quiet about the fact that it doesn’t meet the EU mandate that smart metering should not use proprietary technologies.'


Mesh network tech to reach another meter that can use cellular seems to be this product:


The general view of the technical reviewers is that the UK SMETSx programme is an over designed, over specified and over complex system (aka another Govt IT c***-up) which is far more expensive than it need be and still has fallen foul of poor cellular coverage and high electrical radio frequency interference levels in the meters. Apparently SMETS1 spec even failed to provide necessary levels of security and could be easily hacked and was rejected by GCHQ.
 
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