BT wants smart meter network business

BT believes energy suppliers should use its communications network to connect the national network of smart energy meters announced this morning.

BT believes energy suppliers should use its communications network to connect the national network of smart energy meters announced this morning.

A BT spokesman said the teleco was looking at the detail of the consultation issued today by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

"We believe there are real opportunities to explore how the UK's broadband infrastructure can help deliver smart metering quickly across the UK," he said.

Network issues for the smart grid network make up the first question in the consultation paper. The government is suggesting three broad options. These range from a single national network supplier (the government's preferred option) to a distributed network owned and run either by energy suppliers directly or by a regional network operator.

The government is also preparing the final report on Digital Britain, which has at its centre the government's stated commitment to a universal 2Mbps broadband service.

James Forrest, vice president of Capgemini UK's utilities consultancy, said he believed there was possibly scope to combine Digital Britain and the smart metering project. This was especially true if the result was a "smart grid" that allowed the energy suppliers to manage demand in real time.

According to Ofcom, in 2007 there were 33.7 million fixed lines in the UK, and 123 active mobile connections per 100 consumers. There were also 30 internet connections per 100 head of population and 26 broadband connections per 100 people.

"Using the existing broadband infrastructure could accelerate rollout and reduce associated costs whilst also increasing the number of homes with active broadband connections," the spokesman said.

"We have been considering the role broadband might play and will respond to the consultation in due course."

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