Privacy & Environment
Smart meters are likely to transmit your energy information (how and what you’re using) every 30 minutes to a hub in the street which will pass the information on to a new central Data and Communications Company. Some areas have already started installation. This raises concerns about privacy, security and health: why does your information have to be broadcast so often? Who will have access to your personal information? Can the wireless network be hacked into?
Smart Meters are convenient?
You will be able to turn your central heating on and off remotely using your mobile phone, but are the Wi-Fi frequencies secure? Who else can turn your appliances on and off remotely? Will it interfere with other wireless networks? A fibre-optic network would seem to be a safer option.Fibre optic connections are considered very secure because the data is transmitted as beams of light; therefore no electromagnetic waves are generated. Insulation surrounds the fibre optic strands making it impossible to detect the light pulses without tapping into the actual strands.
Wireless networks on the other hand are more expensive and difficult to secure than fibre optic networks and are therefore vulnerable to hacking, identity theft, national security threats, and unauthorized surveillance of users. Unlike fibre optic networks, wireless networks can be subject to attack wherever a signal is present. Although encryption makes such attacks more difficult, encryption methods do not eliminate this problem. For those with the interest and technical ability (e.g., individual hackers, criminal organizations, and national governments, both foreign and domestic), wireless signals are easily intercepted, tapped, eavesdropped upon, and used as platforms to launch malicious attacks on users.
ask your MP why the governmnet insist on using wireless connections for smart meters instead of fibre optic connections.
Wireless technologies are constrained by inherent performance limitations that do not apply to fibre optic broadband. Wireless broadband networks use microwave radiation to transmit and receive their signals. Radio signals can be blocked by buildings, trees and other objects, and transmission quality is even subject to atmospheric conditions. Many Wi-Fi networks operate in unlicensed bands of the spectrum and use the same carrier frequency as cordless phones, microwave ovens, and other consumer devices, and are therefore even more subject to interference problems than licensed wireless networks.
- Fibre optic technology presents none of these problems. In fact, network traffic moves across fibre optic cables in a manner that makes it even less susceptible to interference from other data travelling along the same fibre cables than other wired technologies (e.g., copper or co-axial cables).
Speed and Capacity
Wireless broadband network speeds are significantly slower than fibre optic networks. In addition, the greater the number of users accessing a wireless access point at a given time, the greater is the degradation of service experienced by those users.
- “.. it is more economically efficient to invest these resources into networks with unlimited potential (such as fibre-optic cable) than to invest in the deployment of a multitude of interim technologies whose bandwidth could be overwhelmed by Internet traffic in a few years. ..Policy should thus focus on future-proof networks – networks employing technologies that are scalable and adaptable to future growth in demand. Several existing technologies are limited by physics and geography and will be obsolete in three to five years. Our resources will be better spent on technologies that have a long shelf life.” A Blueprint for Big Broadband
The government says the average energy bill will increase by £7 by 2015 to pay for the smart meter roll-out. You’ll only save money on your energy bills if you actively use the information to see where you could reduce your energy consumption, and then make an effort to do so. Unlike energy monitors, which you can buy in the shops and set up yourself, smart meters need to be installed by your energy company. Smart meters will need to be replaced around every 10 years – which is more often than current gas and electricity meters. The scheme is likely to save energy suppliers more than £300m a year by removing the need to take meter readings or deal with bill disputes. Source: Which.co.uk
While installing fibre optic broadband is initially more expensive than wireless, (due largely to the excavation costs involved in laying fibre optic cable underground), the jobs such a national effort would create and the long-term benefits that result from building this infrastructure now far surpass any short-term gains from a reliance on wireless.Wireless networks entail the installation of unsightly cell tower and intrusive wireless facilities in residential neighbourhoods and scenic areas. Concerns that arise when these types of facilities are proposed for communities include reduction in property values, destruction of views, and adverse impacts on human health and the environment. Installing a high capacity fibre-to-the-premises broadband network throughout the UK is an investment in superior technology for the long-term benefit of everyone that moves away from a relatively short-term, disposable wireless infrastructure that must be continually upgraded and modified.
Low level microwave and electro-magnetic radiation does seem to be having a detrimental impact on our environment. This referenced article describes the problems it is having on bee colonies. Bees are estimated to pollinate 90 commercial crops worldwide. Their economic value in the UK is estimated to be $290 million per year so it is a matter worth investigating.
A Blueprint for Big Broadband, a white paper on broadband commissioned by EDUCAUSE, a US non-profit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.
Comments to the FCC regarding the Broadband Provisions of the Recovery Act, Bill Schrier, Director and Chief Technology Officer, Department of Information Technology, City of Seattle