From The Sip Trunking Experts

TMCNet:  The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Side Streets column

[October 15, 2012]

The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Side Streets column

Oct 15, 2012 (The Gazette (Colorado Springs - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- When Craig Warren realized Colorado Springs Utilities had installed three data-transmitting "smart meters" on his house, he asked for them to be removed and replaced with old analog meters.

What happened next might surprise you. It certainly angered Warren.

The meters were installed a couple years ago as part of Utilities' five-year, $76.1 million program to replace all the meters of its approximate 215,000 customers. By installing meters that transmit electric, natural gas and water consumption information, Utilities was able to eliminate about 70 meter-reader jobs.

There's a global effort to dump analog meters, which rotate and spin dials to measure usage and must be read individually by humans. Smart meters are considered a key in the effort to transform aging power grids and the network of one-way transmission lines, "dumb" mechanical switches, transformers and meters.

Government experts argue a computerized system of sensors and communications devices will sense grid overloads that result in expensive and crippling power outages. The smart grid will take usage data and automatically reroute electricity around trouble spots, rather than waiting for engineers watching dials at power plants to recognize trouble and physically turn levers.

But folks like Warren don't trust the smart meters or the government's intentions with its smart grid.

"The public should be aware of this," Warren passionately explained to me. "I would not be opposed if the meter sent out a signal once a month to show my meter reading. But why do they need to be constantly monitoring everybody's power and which appliances are being used "These devices are spying on you." Not so, said Utilities spokesman Steve Berry.

"The conversion was done as a cost-saving, conservation and safety tool," Berry said. "The meters help us be better stewards of our resources." Personally, I welcomed my smart meters because I was tired of meter readers entering my backyard and accidentally letting my dogs out.

And I recall being startled a few times to find a stranger on the patio where our electric meter hangs.

But Warren doesn't share my comfort with the smart meters.

Besides his perceived invasion of privacy, he also worries about health risks raised by other smart meter opponents who fear the meters' frequent bursts of microwaves that send data to receivers.

So he called Utilities and asked for the meters to be replaced. Warren said Utilities staff was rude and threatening and "lied to me." After Utilities refused to remove the meters, he disconnected two small transmitters on his water and gas meters and replaced his electric meter with the help of an electrician.

"I gave them a chance to do the right thing," Warren said. "When they didn't, I did it myself." Then he wrapped his analog meter in chains and hung a sign on it warning Utilities employees not to touch it.

Now Warren said he's facing possible tampering fines, a $100 opt-out fee, and a $20 monthly service charge.

"I don't think it's right or legal to charge me to opt out," Warren said. "And the tampering fine is ridiculous." But Berry defended Utilities' handling of the situation.

"He was diverting services without being appropriately metered," Berry said. "And he was not using approved equipment. There are potential costs he'll have to pay." Berry explained that Utilities hasn't received City Council permission to let customers opt out of the smart meter program, although the option may be available in January.

He expects few of the 535,000 smart meter installed by Utilities to be replaced with analog.

"Ninety-nine percent of our customers don't have an issue with them," Berry said. "Mr. Warren makes a valid point about his concern regarding technology and privacy. But we have no evidence that any of this puts our customers health at risk." He noted that electromagnetic fields and microwaves and small doses of radiation are common as we surround ourselves with more electronics and high-tech devices.

"Every time you get on a computer, the Internet, a telephone or cellphone you incur some risk," Berry said. "There's a legitimate core concern there." But, Berry said, customers can't just unhook their meters and replace them as they please.

Warren insists he should not have smart meters forced on him, nor should he be punished with monthly charges for wanting to keep the old system.

"Why should I have to pay extra to keep my old meters " he asked. "That doesn't make sense." Maybe I'm naive, but I'm not too worried about smart meters. I'm just glad I don't have to worry about my dogs escaping anymore.

-- Please Friend me on Facebook and follow my Tweets on Twitter ___ (c)2012 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Visit The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

[ Back To SIP Trunking Home's Homepage ]

Subscribe here for your FREE
SIP TRUNKING enewslettter.

Featured Partner

Featured Whitepapers

SIP Security for the Enterprise
Voice over IP (VoIP) is incorporated into a variety of computer networks, both public and private, and used for everyday transactions and communications among carriers, businesses, government agencies...

Making A Broadband Purchase Decision
Businesses today have many options for broadband connectivity. Clarifying your particular business needs prior to selecting a broadband provider will ensure an optimal match of broadband service to your requirements.

Voice-Optimized Network Delivers Premier Call Experience
Customers equate call quality with business quality. Real-time communication, interpersonal interaction, and the cordial tone of a call center representative can create a positive impression of your business that no email can match.

Featured Case Studies

Business Telecom Expenses Reduced 50%
A small to medium sized company in the midwest was interested in migrating to IP Communications, but in today's economy, they were hesitant to upgrade their communication system due to their perception that the cost would outweigh the benefits.

Multi-State Company Cuts Telecom Costs 50%
A multi-site, multi-state company with extensive monthly long distance fees and toll-free charges did not have adequate broadband for Broadvox SIP Trunking requirements, nor did they have a SIP enabled telephone system.

Discover Leisure Connects Remote Users to its IP-PBX
Discover Leisure is one of the largest resellers of caravans and motor homes in the UK. With 15 branch of?ces all over the country, the company spent a great deal of money every month just on internal phone calls.

Featured eBOOKS

Internet+: The Way Toward Global Unified Communication
Connecting the telephony of the enterprise PBX or Unified Communications (UC) system using SIP trunks instead of conventional telephone lines has been very successful in recent years.

What is SIP Trunking? Edition 2
SIP trunking is becoming more of a focus for service providers. One key issue many service providers face when deploying SIP trunks is NAT, or Network Address Translation, traversal.

What is SIP Trunking? Edition 1
A vast resource for information about all things SIP - including SIP, security, VoIP, SIP trunking and Unified Communications.

Featured Videos

Broadvox VAR Testimonial VAR 1:
Part 1 of the VAR (Value Added Reseller) Partner Program Testimonials for Broadvox...

E-SBCs AS The Demarcation Point:
Ingate's Steve Johnson talks to Erik Linask about the role session border controller plays as the demarcation point at...

Demystifying DPI
How can deep packet inspection protect your SIP traffic as well as your entire network?

Featured Resources

Partner Program Overview:
Over 4,000 VARs, Master Agents, Solution Providers, and Independent IT Professionals trust Broadvox. We offer customized services and solutions to fit seamlessly into any company's business model. And when you partner with Broadvox, every member of our team stands behind you and your customers 100%...

SIP Trunk UC Summit

What's New

Presenting the New Ingate/Intertex Website:
Internet+ is an extended Internet access allowing high quality SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) based real-time person-to-person communication, everywhere and for any application. It applies to both fixed and mobile networks ...

Featured Blogs

Featured Webinars

Secure SIP Trunking:
What You Need to Know

Successfully Deploying Enterprise SIP Trunking:
Tools and Techniques for Overcoming Common Roadblocks

Featured Podcasts

Getting the Most Out of Your SIP Trunks:
Ingate's Steve Johnson and TMC's Erik Linask discuss how best practices forgetting the most out of SIP Trunking services and common pitfalls to avoid.

Featured Datasheets

Ingate SIParator E-SBCs
Adopting SIP is a simple process with the Ingate SIParator, the secure enterprise session border controller (E-SBC). The SIParator makes secure SIP communications - including VoIP,SIP trunking and more - possible while working seamlessly with your existing network firewall.

Ingate Firewalls
Everyone is talking about enterprise usage of VoIP, instant messaging and other types of realtime communications including presence and conferencing.

SIP Trunk Solutions for Service Providers
The award-winning Ingate Firewall and Ingate SIParator deliver a high quality, reliable SIP trunk connection between the customer's IP-PBX and the service provider network, and solve interoperability issues to simplify deployments and support for remote diagnosis of reported issues.