Feeds

Smart meters blamed for Wi-Fi, garage opener interference

Utility not doing enough, advocate says

The essential guide to IT transformation

Smart meters issued by an electric utility in Maine are interfering with a wide range of customers' electronic devices, including wireless routers, cordless phones, electric garage doors, and answering machines.

The Central Maine Power Company has received complaints from more than 200 customers since the meters were installed a little more than a year ago. The utility has deployed almost 425,000 of the devices, which use low-power radio transmissions to send meter readings. The 200 complaints received to date are probably a small subset of those affected, the state's public advocate said.

“We have asked CMP to do a better job informing customers about these potential problems, and while CMP's website does refer to the issue, we don't think it goes far enough," Public Advocate Richard Davies said in the statement. “My agency is troubled by the possibility that people may be spending their time and money fixing a problem that may be caused by CMP's meters, and that can and should be fixed by CMP.”

In a list of frequently asked questions, utility officials said the meters operate on the same 2.4GHz frequency band used by many cordless phones and 802.11 wireless devices.

“Separating interfering devices usually reduces interference, so make sure the wireless device is located as far from the smart meter as possible,” the posting advises. “Also, adjust the position of the antenna on the device, if possible, and move the wireless device away from any walls that may absorb the signal.”

The utility also said interference can sometimes be overcome by changing the Wi-Fi channel used by their router. In the US, channels 1 and 11 are favored, the utility said.

In the past, some electric customers have reported that their power bills spiked immediately after their old meters were replaced with smart meters. Some have also complained about the health effects from the radio transmissions of smart meters, although there is little scientific evidence to back up these claims.

Security experts have also warned that smart meters are susceptible to hack attacks that could potentially take down the power grid. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
KER-CHING! CryptoWall ransomware scam rakes in $1 MEEELLION
Anatomy of the net's most destructive ransomware threat
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?