London, U.K. --- (METERING.COM) --- August 14, 2012 - In a new consultation Britain’s government has proposed new functions for the national smart meter rollout, including the home area network (HAN) solution and the process for joining a consumer access device to the HAN.

The so-called Smart Meter Equipment Technical Specifications (SMETS 2) consultation is intended to help to ‘future proof’ the smart meter system and protect against potentially costly decisions in the future.

A key objective of the smart metering solution is that equipment in consumer premises is fully interoperable. It is proposed that interoperability will be supported by mandating the use of a defined, ‘open’ HAN standard for smart metering. Accordingly, following a field trial of wireless propagation and an analysis of ‘open’ protocols, amongst other evidence, it is proposed that the ZigBee SEP/DLMS applications layer standard is mandated for Britain’s smart metering. Both 2.4 GHz and 868 MHz based solutions are permitted, with 2.4 GHz solutions expected to be used initially and 868 MHz solutions brought forward and added as soon as practicable. In addition it is recognized that a wired HAN will be required for certain types of property (e.g. high-rise flats), and a trial of wired HAN solutions is planned.

It is also proposed that the communications hubs, which will manage communications between devices within the premises and to and from the Data and Communications Company (DCC), are procured and owned by the DCC’s communication service providers (CSPs). This arrangement will place responsibility for integration of the HAN and the WAN with the parties which are considered best placed to manage this task. Energy suppliers will be responsible for installing a communications hub at the time that they install smart meters and, other than in exceptional circumstances, it is proposed that energy suppliers will also be responsible for field service activities to maintain communications hubs.

Other proposals considered include:

  • Support for consumer access devices and, in particular, a secure and consumer friendly method of linking such devices to the consumer’s smart meters via the HAN
  • A prepayment interface device to assist energy suppliers to meet the obligations associated with prepayment operations
  • Further proposals for microgeneration meters to facilitate smart metering of the output from solar panels and other small scale generation plant
  • Capabilities to support installation and maintenance activities.

The consultation runs to October 8, 2012.