British Gas has placed a multi-million pound contract with Vodafone to enable smart metering services that will use GPRS to backhaul the usage data. The contract will see Vodafone supply nearly one million GPRS connections to household meters to help monitor real-time energy usage as part of a scheme it claims will lead to cost savings and reduced CO2 emissions.
The project will also involve Landis+Gyr to develop the smart meters and a touch-screen hub, Trilliant to connect the various units, OSIsoft to store data and SAP, which will integrate the system with British Gas's existing IT systems. Consumers will be able to monitor their electricity and gas usage via an "In Home Display" that will also show real-time energy charges.
However, while the plan calls for ZigBee to provide the wireless connections to the smart meter and other electrical appliances, British Gas has confirmed it is lukewarm on the technology, admitting: "We anticipate that ZigBee might not be suitable for all homes, and that developments or other methods may be needed to establish a Home Area Network."
British Gas has published a specification in the hope that other vendors will implement kit to the same standard, but the company is committed to connecting up at least two million homes by 2012. The government announced last year that every home in Britain would be fitted with a smart energy meter by 2020. It was expected that there would be a contract with a national communications network to manage data received from the meters, and distribute it to suppliers.
Vodafone has recently signed a number of M2M deals having partnered with Alcatel-Lucent on a similar smart metering project with the German utility provider Stadtwerke Pasewalk. It also announced an M2M outsourcing deal with North American M2M vendor Numerex in January
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