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Enabling more British homes to benefit from smart metering

Improving our coverage

Dual Band Comms Hubs (DBCH) are expected to increase coverage to 96.5% of premises.

DBCH infographic

Programme overview

The story so far

What are Comms hubs?

A smart metering installation usually includes gas and electricity smart meters, an In Home Display (IHD) and a Communications Hub (Comms Hub). These devices communicate with each other via a Home Area Network (HAN) which is generated by the Comms Hub.

Comms hubs
Glasses

The problem

The current Comms Hubs have a single band 2.4 GHz HAN frequency and are known as Single Band Comms Hubs (SBCH) and should provide HAN coverage in approximately 70% of premises. For some buildings like blocks of flats or where walls are very thick, the smart meter can't communicate with the Comms Hub.

The solution

So in 2020, a more sophisticated hub with a choice of frequencies started being installed. These are called Dual Band Comms Hubs. They use a HAN frequency of 868MHz along with the existing 2.4GHz frequency. Dual Band Comms Hubs (DBCH) are expected to increase coverage to 96.5% of premises. These hubs will enable millions more British homes to benefit from smart metering.

Two technicians

Got a question?

Our most frequently asked questions

What are Dual Band Comms Hubs (DBCH), and why are they needed?

The current Comms Hubs have a single band 2.4 GHz Home Area Network (HAN) frequency and are known as Single Band Comms Hubs (SBCH) and should provide HAN coverage in approximately 70% of premises. For some buildings like blocks of flats or where walls are very thick, the smart meter can't communicate with the Comms Hub. So in 2020, a more sophisticated hub with a choice of frequencies started being installed. These are called Dual Band Comms Hubs. They use a HAN frequency of 868MHz along with the existing 2.4GHz frequency. Dual Band Comms Hubs (DBCH) are expected to increase coverage to 96.5% of premises. These hubs will enable millions more British homes to benefit from smart metering.

When did DBCH go live?

During August 2020 – September 2020, we completed the joint testing and implementation strategy with energy providers.

Are energy providers already installing DBCH?

Yes, and this is across all of Great Britain, and across all of the Comms Hub manufacturers that the DCC makes use of.

Are there any differences in installing a Dual Band Comms Hub (DBCH) compared to a Single Band Comms Hub (SBCH), or any of the other Comms Hub functions or processes?

Throughout the design of DBCH, the DCC has been mindful of the impact to energy providers and consumers. This design has ensured that a DBCH operates in exactly the same way as a SBCH, and that all of the Comms Hub processes an energy provider may use, remains the same. However, DBCH’s can make use of special messages or Service Requests (SR’s) to allow the Energy Provider to monitor the Comms Hub use of the 868MHz frequency.

Will DBCH interfere with other devices in my home that make use of an 868MHz frequency?

No. The additional functions and SR’s that are used by DBCH are specifically set up to ensure that any existing 868MHz frequency is not affected through channel scanning and optimisation.

How much further does the DBCH extend the range of the Home Area Network (HAN)?

Unfortunately, because of the number of the combination of meter installation locations, property types and building materials, the DCC is unable to quantify specifically how much further a DBCH will extend the HAN. However, HAN survey tools are available from specialist network monitoring and calibration suppliers.

Where can I get more information on DBCH?

If you are a householder or business energy consumer, please contact your energy provider, as they will be able to provide specific information in regards to your circumstances. If you are an energy provider and would like to more information about the future development of DBCH through the GBCS 2.1, 3.2 or Fylingdales programmes, please email the SMETS2 PMO team at SMETS2.PMO@smartdcc.co.uk. If you are an energy provider with a question about a current production incident, please email the DCC Service Centre at ServiceCentre@smartdcc.co.uk.