Experts say the reason for the forced replacement of "smart" electricity meters in the housing and communal services system is the new restrictions of the Ministry of Digital Industry, approved on December 30, 2020. They relate to the tightening of requirements for data transmission standards.
“The problem is that the foreign data transfer standard used in the devices was not included in the list of acceptable ones approved at the end of December, in contrast to the less common domestic analogue”, - Kommersant reports.
The publication clarifies that concerns about the need to replace the meters were expressed by representatives of MTS, MegaFon, VimpelCom and Tele2.
Operators point out that the popular Internet of Things data transmission standard NB-IoT (Narrowband Internet of Things) was not included in the list of permissible for use in electricity metering systems and devices. Domestic NB-Fi is recognized as the only acceptable data transfer protocol in electricity metering systems.
Rejected in Russia, the NB-IoT data transmission format, which is used in devices equipped with a conventional or virtual SIM card, differs from other standards in lower power consumption. This allows the devices to operate for up to ten years without changing the battery. This is very convenient for electricity meters, pipeline monitoring sensors and smart city systems.
According to the operators, due to the interference of the Ministry of Digital Industry, at least a million electricity metering devices can be declared illegal in Central Russia alone. Their forced replacement will inevitably provoke an increase in electricity prices.
The restrictions introduced by the officials of the Ministry of Digital Science can harm consumers in more than 70 regions of the country who have purchased and have already installed new energy-saving equipment designed to transmit meter data.
Explaining the restrictions imposed, the Ministry of Finance reported that they included in the list approved in December those standards that were recommended to them by the Ministry of Energy and the FSB.
The Ministry of Finance assures that the adopted list will be recommendatory. However, telecom operators are convinced that on the basis of "recommendations" they will still be forced to abandon the use of a million "smart" meters.
Outraged by the innovations, representatives of mobile communication companies sent a letter to the Ministry of Digital Science, where they indicate that the Russian standard, developed by the Vaviot company, proposed by them, is less secure than foreign counterparts, since it operates in unlicensed frequencies. At the same time, the operators are convinced that the decision of the Ministry of Digital Industry restricts competition in the market of metering devices.
If officials nevertheless insist on the reinstallation of metering devices in connection with a change in the recommended standard, this could lead to an excess increase in utility bills of Russians. At a time when most families have seriously "sagged" in income amid the coronavirus pandemic, and complain that many do not have enough money for food and clothing, demands to replace the million already purchased and installed metering devices may lead to a new round of social tension.