Operators poised for £7B smart meter bid

The UK government has accelerated the delivery timescales for a giant £7 billion smart metering project. This news has triggered UK mobile operators into preparing to bid for the contract that will now start in July 2012, a year earlier than previously planned.

The project, which has been mandated by the UK government, aims to install gas and electricity smart meters in 27 million UK homes by 2020, and will initially focus on a major contract to run the Data Communications Company (DCC). The DCC would play a central role as a national communications network managing data received from the meters and distributing it to utility suppliers.

Vodafone, which is already working with British Gas to deliver its smart meter programme, is tipped as certain to bid, while Orange and O2 have indicated a wider interest in the project.

Geoff Sarney, O2's head of smart metering, said: "At O2 we believe that the challenge is not just to deliver a smart meter that can provide energy readings remotely but to create a service that delivers an end-to-end solution, which satisfies Government, utilities and consumers, in addition to providing future revenue streams."

Orange (or Everything Everywhere, if you prefer) said that it had smart metering expertise across the business, from R&D through to design and delivery of core smart metering services. "A huge amount of development work has been undertaken to ensure we have the best solutions, backed by the largest network to meet and exceed the demands of the Prospectus."

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