London, England --- (METERING.COM) --- November 5, 2012 - In the first “foundation” stage of Britain’s smart meter rollout, consumers must have a positive experience and the meters and communications arrangements must be easily transferred on change of supplier.

Further, the organizations funding the foundation meters must have appropriate economic and commercial incentives to support market development.

These objectives form the basis of the latest consultation on the rollout from the regulator Ofgem.

The foundation stage started in April 2011 and will end with the start of mass rollout in late 2014.

Ofgem considers that the increasing technical and regulatory certainty around the smart meter technical specification (SMETS) and the introduction of license conditions and legislation on smart metering, as well as the new switching obligations should lead to “smart change of supplier” (i.e. that customers who have begun to benefit from smart services should generally be able to continue to do so if they change to a new supplier). However, further potential regulatory intervention could provide greater clarity to installing suppliers and meter asset providers as to how gaining suppliers would engage on inheriting a meter, and would facilitate asset tracking.

Ofgem expects significant numbers of SMETS compliant metering systems to be installed during the foundation stage. There are likely to be material benefits in having as many of these as is practicable connected using part or all of the data and communications company (DCC) service in terms of economic efficiency and broader consumer and network operator benefits, in particular facilitating change of supplier. It is therefore important to facilitate enrolment and adoption, which is the process by which meters and their associated communications contracts would migrate to the DCC service. However, there is not a clear case for mandating enrolment at this time.

The consultation closes on January 4, 2013.