Eight bidders are in the running for the three smart meter communications contracts – part of the UK’s £11bn Smart Metering Implementation Programme. The programme aims to install smart meters in up to 30 million households across the UK within the next five to 10 years.
The bidder lineup comprises: Airwave; the SmartReach consortium of Arqiva, BT and BAE Systems Detica; UK construction giant Balfour Beatty; Cable & Wireless; Ericsson; Everything Everywhere; O2; and Vodafone.
The full programme is made up of nine separate contracts, of which there are three smart meter communications contracts divided on regional lines: northern Great Britain (GB)including Scotland; central GB including Wales; and southern GB. Each of the three contracts is worth between £330m and £1.5bn over the 10-15 year life of the contract, totalling £4bn.
The work involves the delivery of a wide area network, telephone and data transmission services, IT services, consulting, software development, internet and support services. The smart meters will be covering electricity and gas.
The contract is being overseen by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which will establish a licensed Data and Communications Company (DCC) to manage remote communications between smart meters and energy supplier, network operator and other authorised parties.
In order to bring forward the environment, consumer and economic benefits of smart metering, DECC is procuring communications services on behalf of the future DCC licensee through the three regional contracts.
At present, the bidders are at the information to submit outline solutions stage. A DECC spokesperson said: ‘Following the initial stage of the communications procurement we have invited eight bidders to propose their outline solutions. Detailed solutions and best and final offers will be developed over the remainder of this year.
‘The programme intends to reduce the number of bidders for each region on two further occasions according to the solutions that they propose in response to: one, the invitation to submit outline solutions in May 2012; and two, the invitation to submit detailed solutions around November 2012.’
He continued: ‘We aim to select preferred suppliers for each region and have them ready to sign contracts with the DCC by April 2013, which will be licensed through a competition run in parallel.’