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General news, Health, Privacy

Frequent broadcasting

Ask almost anyone at a power company how often their smart meters send out a wireless signal and they’ll tell you once a day.

Couldn’t quite believes this myself and did some research.

I discovered of course that smart meters frequently send out signals, not just to base, but to each other up and down the street.

Here’s what the guy at Contact Energy had to say about it.

I quote: “The scenario that he is referring to will be RF Mesh communications whereby the meters communicate as a kind of a daisy chain from meter to meter and ultimately to a collection point up a power pole which then communicates back to the office.

“These systems do communicate more regularly with each other because they dynamically reconfigure the best communication pathway depending on which meters are available – for example if someone turn off the power at the house next door to me, the meter at my house would need to find a new route back to the collection point.

“They then relay messages from other meters further out in the chain through to the collection point.

“Although the communication is more frequent, the trade-off is that because the range is very small (from one house to the house next door/across the road/down the street…) the strength of the signal is very low.

“In the University Canterbury EPEC report there is a description and diagram of this on pages 8 and 9.

“The frequency that each meter communicates varies depending on where each meter is in the chain (i.e. a meter that is at the outer end of the chain would need to communicate infrequently as it would only need to send its own data – a meter closer in to the collection point would communicate more frequently as it would also be relaying data from other meters).

“Percentage of the time that the meter is actively communicating ranges from a fraction of a percent up to 15% but as noted this is all at very low power because of the short hops involved.

“This has been reviewed by all of the relevant regulatory authorities, taking into account the power of the signal and it is well inside the safe levels.

“The meters we are deploying at present are all GPRS and the information we have provided about them is accurate – they are dormant (in listening mode only) except for their one transmission each day.

“The exception to the single transmission would be if for any reason we requested a special read – for example if the customer asked for a final reading in which case AMS would send a message to the meter requesting an additional reading be sent.”

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