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SMS partners Alt HAN to develop smart meter solutions for hard-to-reach households

Powerline networking is a hybrid of wired and wireless technology which uses existing electrical wiring in a building in tandem with plug-in adapters. Credit: SMS.

Powerline networking is a hybrid of wired and wireless technology which uses existing electrical wiring in a building in tandem with plug-in adapters. Credit: SMS.

SMS has partnered with the Alternative Home Area Network Company (Alt HAN) to test new solutions for households that are currently difficult to connect to the smart meter network.

There are around one million households that cannot benefit from the smart meter Home Area Network (HAN), as the components of this – the energy meters, in-home device and communications hub – cannot communicate with each other given the hard-to-reach locations of the properties.

This is generally because the smart meter has had to be installed outside the property – as is common for apartment blocks – or because the property has very thick walls that can obstruct communication between the HAN elements.

Alt HAN, a not-for-profit collective of energy suppliers, has developed a set of solutions including powerline networking and wireless radio technology, to try to overcome the challenges of communication across greater distance.

Through its new partnership, SMS will provide the collective with a specialist lab facility as well as its firmware management service to test out these solutions.

The solutions will be analysed by SMS with support from Alt HAN over the course of a year to ensure interoperability with the smart meter HAN, which will communicate using a bespoke wireless system, and is able to securely connect to the national network managed by Smart DCC.

The initial interoperability phase will replicate 34 different HANs in a range of hard-to-reach mock domestic settings and configurations.

“Once interoperability is tested at our facility, we anticipate that the powerline solution could unlock access to up to 4% of GB premises that cannot currently have a smart meter installed due to connectivity challenges, bringing these consumers the full benefits of smart meters and assisting energy suppliers with their mandated rollout targets,” said Tim Mortlock, chief operating officer of SMS.

Following on from this phase, SMS will provide support for Alt HAN and its supplier members during the adoption of the solutions. This will include ongoing testing of device combinations, compatibility with new meter models and firmware upgrades, as well as installation and commissioning best practice.

The partnership follows SMS signing a number of partnerships in 2021, including extending its exclusivity agreement with supplier Shell Energy and becoming the first meter installer to offer Aclara’s complete portfolio of SMETS2 smart meters to the UK utilities market.

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