Why 2G and 3G smart meters are going to stop working

by | Feb 22, 2024 | Broadband & Phone, Electricity & Gas

Why are the owners of 3G smart meters losing service? Some of the UK’s earliest smart meter adopters could lose their smart meter functionality in the coming years as 2G and 3G mobile networks are discontinued.

For customers with older smart meters, this means arranging an upgrade before mobile service stops. Why are these smart meters losing functionality?


3G smart meters will stop working

Smart meters are internet-connected energy meters with extra functions. For example, they show real-time energy use and send live updates to your supplier.

The first wave of smart meters were SMETS1 models. These 2G and 3G smart meters use a SIM card, just like in a mobile phone, to connect to the internet. They used this connection to provide automatic meter readings.

The SMETS1 model faced problems with connectivity, including losing functionality when the owner switched to a new energy supplier. The second wave of devices was quickly rolled out, referred to as SMETS2.

Today, 3G internet is being discontinued by mobile network carriers. The last 3G connections will be deactivated in 2033, but work has already begun on dismantling the network in some areas. This is part of a wider effort to keep telecoms up to date, along with the rollout of 6G mobile internet.

Before the 3G network is closed SMETS1 meters will need to be upgraded or replaced.


When were 3G smart meters installed?

The majority of SMETS1 or 3G smart meters were installed between 2011 and 2019. If you had a smart meter fitted during this period, there’s a high chance it will be affected by the 3G switchover.

The government estimates around 7 million currently installed smart meters will lose their functionality after the 3G network goes down.


Do I have a SMETS1 or SMETS2 meter?

If you’re not sure which kind of smart meter you have, the easiest way to check is by examining the meter. If there’s a device on top labelled Telefonica/ Arqiva/WNC/Toshiba then you have a more recent SMETS2 meter. In SMETS1 meters, the connectivity device was installed separately.

If you’re unsure or want to confirm, reach out to your energy supplier. They’ll be able to check what kind of meter you have installed.


How to get your smart meter replaced

If you have 3G smart meters installed then you need to contact your energy supplier directly to arrange an upgrade. Your supplier may be able to fit a new SIM that works on 4G or 5G networks. If not, the meter will have to be replaced entirely.

As OVO Energy mentioned in this forum post, customers won’t be charged directly for the upgrades. Other suppliers have not made a public statement, but some energy firms do currently charge £50 to replace a faulty smart meter.

Ultimately, whether customers are charged directly for the upgrades or not the cost of the rollout is expected to be reflected in further rises to energy bills.



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