SmartReach, a collaboration of Arqiva, BT, BAE Systems Detica and Sensus, together with ScottishPower have successfully demonstrated the ability of long range radio communications to connect to smart meters regardless of location.

ScottishPower has been able to connect over 99% of meters in the trial areas with a single installation visit to each home, using SmartReach’s long range radio communications solution alone. What’s more, this was achieved before network optimisation by SmartReach, which would further increase connection rates, and without the use of so-called ‘infill’ or any other special communications solutions.

This trial purposely targeted meters in ‘hard to reach’ locations, an important test given that alternative communications solutions may struggle to connect up to 20% of meters, which could impact over five million homes when GB wide roll-out gets underway.

This Scottish trial covers meters located outside and deep inside buildings, in basements and in flats across rural and dense urban areas. Lochwinnoch is only 20 miles from Glasgow but is the type of rural location that alternative communications networks find hard to reach. Densely populated Glasgow presents a different kind of communications challenge, with meters located deep inside buildings, including basements.

Andrew Ward, ScottishPower’s operations director, commented, “This highly successful trial with SmartReach has shown how almost all smart meters, even in hard to reach locations, can be successfully connected with a single installation visit using its long range radio communications solution alone. If this were rolled-out at scale it could provide a more convenient experience for millions of consumers and lower installation costs.”

For the trial, SmartReach is using Arqiva’s existing tower infrastructure, Sensus’ FlexNet smart metering communications solution and smart meters from EDMI. SmartReach is also running trials with other UK energy and water utility companies, successfully demonstrating the suitability of its long range radio solution for dedicated smart metering communications.

Sean Weir, programme director for SmartReach, said, “Alternative communications networks have gaps in coverage in remote areas and can also find it hard to connect to meters in basement flats and cupboards under stairs, even in city centres. This trial with ScottishPower has demonstrated the strengths of SmartReach’s long range radio solution to reach meters wherever they are, including in locations that other networks find difficult to reach.”

The technology behind SmartReach is widely deployed in the US, where more than twelve million smart meter and grid end points are connected to long range radio-based networks from Sensus. It has been proven to be suitable for meters situated in conventional locations as well as those located in hard to reach places such as meter pits, cellars and basements.