National society acts over Smart Meter interference

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by G4TUT, Feb 20, 2020.

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  1. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree with your first part, though maybe not as you intended - the government will win, the utility will lose.

    As for the smart meters, it seems you stand on being correct regarding a small technicality of the story while being wrong about almost all of it. Had the story said “smart meter system” instead of “smart meters”, you would be 100% wrong.
  2. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The choice of BPL in the HF range by the utility was a quite stupid decision, not only from the
    interference point-of-view. BPL has not lived up to the expectations in previous deployments.

    Something all HF users have to really watch out for will be the massive deployment of small-scale solar power plants.

    In the Nordic countries individual solar power arrays are becoming subsidised, and with rising energy prices, the penetration will become quite prevalent in the coming years.

    Current EMC norms do not limit radiation in the HF range from complete installations, which causes some worry among military spectrum users.

    In some cases, they have vetoed installations nearby military comm centres due to interference risks, but up to now the decisions have been overturned by higher courts.

    HF users have a very "uphill battle" to fight, as energy saving and solar power is considered a matter of great political importance.

    Anyone, especially hobbyist radio users, publicly going against these interests are going to have a difficult time.

  3. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    But from this thread, the utility is illegally operating since it didn’t apply for an HF BPL license and it wouldn’t have been granted anyway. It’s not simply a case of an authorized service interfering with amateurs.
  4. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Don’t the EU EMC directives apply to equipment in the solar plants? Here the equivalent regulations do, as far as I know.
  5. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The whole point with BPL and related techniques is that they are not transmitters in the sense of the Radio Regulations and national laws derived from these.

    No regulator I know of requires a licence to operate any carrier-current or BPL-related system.
    If they did, the BPL would have been a transmitter licensed to operate in a certain frequency range.

    What may be have been violated are national EMC regulations, as the equipment is an "unintentional radiator". I have had reason to investigate in some detail the legal background to EMC regulations for telecommunications equipment, which are not transmitters by design.

    It appears that only spectrum users that have been specifically mentioned in the national rules enjoy protection from interference from such sources, and these are in order of importance:
    • Public safety and traffic safety communications (land, air and sea)
    • National TV and radio broadcasts
    • Military communications
    • Licence fee paying users of e.g. land mobile spectrum
    The mutual order may vary between jurisdictions.

    Others have no or very little protection.
    A very good example is Germany.

    Up to about 2010, the German spectrum regulator, the BNetzA,
    actively investigated interference complaints to international HF broadcasting, with the
    justification that being able to receive international broadcasts was part of the "freedom of information" policy.

    With the substantial decline in the numbers of HF broadcasters, the agency decided that nobody any longer needs HF to get information from abroad, and stopped investigations. This saved a lot of manpower and other resources, as resolving local HF interference can be very time-consuming.
    The BNetzA is however still interested of protecting licensed HF spectrum from "intruders", and is among the last in Europe to which complaints can be directed and getting at least some response.

    To my knowledge, the situation has become quite similar in the rest of Europe, it has been reported at the website that the British regulator Ofcom does not act very much on RFI complaints coming from "non-safety" or "non-paying" users.

    The current directive and EMC norms do not apply to the whole installation, only to components.

    Some legalese exists about general "protection requirements", but their actual force has not been determined in the courts.

    There is currently work going on in this direction in the CISPR and the
    EU commission, which is quite slow and also seriously contested by the manufacturers.

    G8HGN and N0TZU like this.
  6. K4RGN

    K4RGN Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Largely true in North America, but some meters use the AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile/Sprint mobile networks. You may see more of that as NB-IoT is deployed. Note that the 900 meters can use 900-928 (typically mesh networks) or 928-960 (typically point-to-multipoint networks). There are also a relatively small number of meters doing mesh at 2.4 but you're more likely to see those overseas.

    Outside North America, meters operate in many bands... in some cases as low as 410-430. Actually that's an ideal frequency when meters are in basements, as they are in many countries.

    Not necessarily true for low-end smart meters. I've seen some really noisy ones from China, India, etc. The U.S. utilities are reluctant to use them, but they've won market share in many other countries.
  7. KF5LJW

    KF5LJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree and I probable should have said UHF rather than 900 Mhz. Slip of the tongue because I am currently working jointly with a utility using 900 Mhz CDMA bands. Outside the USA carriers use frequencies as low as 400 Mhz in cellular bands which has a significant range advantage in rural areas. The whole point is it is far removed from HF.

    Still would like to know why they use HF as transport which appears to be the part that is causing interference.
  8. W5JON

    W5JON Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    My original post says:
    "HOWEVER the "Concentrators" made by Corinex BPL (Canada), that the Smart Meters sent their readings to, continuously send those reading back to the "Main Office" via BPL on 2 to 12Mhz, with an S9+20 data QRM totally wiping out 80 - 30 Meters. Andy N2NT (V47T) and I W5JON (V47JA) last year filed formal complains with the ST Kitts NTRC (their FCC), and on October 7, 2019 the NTRC issued a "Cease and Desist Order" against St Kitts Electricity Company (SKELEC) to "immediately" shut down ALL the Concentrators. Two weeks later SKELEC shut down the local ILLEGAL and, UNAUTHORISED Concentrators near Andy (about 3 miles from my QTH) and near me, so we have been FREE OF ANY BPL QRM since then. But they have been stalling everywhere else on St Kitts."

    So I have been free of any BPL QRM since about October 20, 2019 as SKELEC complied with the October 7, 2019, NTRC issued "Cease and Desist Order" against them and shut down the Concentrators near my QTH and also near Andy's QTH. But they have been stalling everywhere else on St Kitts. So any future "action" by the NTRC or ECTEL, will be to get them to comply on the entire island.

    BTW since the Concentrator in my area was removed, the Meter reading truck has driven down my street to read the meters in the area, the same as it did for the previous
    10 years prior to installing the Concentrators. So since October 20, 2019, I have been a happy camper. Hope this clears things up........ John V47JA
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
  9. W5JON

    W5JON Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The reason SKELEC decided to use HF and not VHF or UHF, Corinex told them that VHF or UHF data transfer would have required external antennas at EVERY data site, to send the collected Meter Data to the "Main Office". So SKELEC wanting to save a "lot" on the system and installation cost, went with the HF BPL using the Power Lines as their antenna on HF. Their BIG mistake was not getting the St Kitts Federal Government Authorization to use those HF frequencies from the NTRC.
  10. KF5LJW

    KF5LJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thank you sir. Antennas at every collection site is a lot less expensive than a meter reader in a truck. In the USA meter readers are 8-Track Tapes and those jobs eliminated along with dog bite law suits.

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