FAQ: Mesh Network Issues

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Q: What is a mesh network?

Unlike a cell-phone network, which has large antennas that capture and transmit data, with individual phones moving around and connecting to the closest antenna in order to utilize the network, a mesh network has no centralized antennas. Every meter in the network can connect to every other one (within a certain distance- roughly a mile or two in the case of some smart meters that have been tested). Information moves around and then is collected by centralized hub antennas usually mounted on utility poles called Data Collector Units (or DCU’s).  There are also collector meters, which collect data from other meters- these tend to have higher emissions and (we believe) tend to be more associated with reported health problems.

Q: Why does my utility want to use this system?

It must have seemed like a great idea to them: little or no extra infrastructure—just install a powerful set of receivers and transmitters on each and every house you have an “easement” on—Voila! A massive “self-healing” connectivity network. Each meter transmits for incredible distances—if it can’t talk to its neighbor, it leaps to the next meter along, and so on.

Why it didn’t occur to them that people would object to have what is essentially a cell phone antenna facility mounted on the side of their house, we just don’t know. Perhaps that is the sort of disordered thinking that happens after years of unmitigated cell-phone use inside corporate offices buzzing with electro-smog.  It is most certainly ignorant, arrogant, and dangerous.   One day there will be prosecutions.

Perks for the utility: fire the meter readers, shut off customers without a field visit, and get access to a huge amount of free data from customer usage. Does any of that sound like it is for your benefit?

Q: Are there other systems in use with “smart” meters?

Utilities use a dizzying list of acronyms and technical terms to describe their ‘smart’ grid systems.  Many insist that their meters aren’t the ‘smart’ meters that have been causing all the problems. ALL of the meter types below are ‘smart’ and are associated with health and safety problems:

AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) enables two-way wireless communication between the utility and the meter.  Enables remote shut off & control of appliances.

AMR (Automatic Meter Reading- or ERT) meters are typically wireless one-way meters that report usage to utility personnel in a vehicle with a handheld device. Includes ‘bubble up’ meters that transmit all the time, and ‘wake up’ systems that transmit when they receive a signal from a drive by meter reader.

PLC (Power Line Communication) uses the power lines to transmit utility usage data.  Though this is a wired system, ‘dirty electricity’ used to send the signal also radiates into living spaces from unshielded wiring, and can be just as dangerous to your health than these other systems. Read more about PLC at EI Wellspring.

“Radio Off” Digital Meters can still act as a surveillance device.  They also use switch mode power supplies, linked to dirty electricity and health problems.

Bottom line: A ‘smart’ meter is any utility meter that contains electronic components.  Do not accept anything less than a ‘purely electro-mechanical analog meter with no electronic components.’  Be aware that some utilities have been installing meters that appear to be analogs but in fact are fully activated ‘smart’ meters.

Q: If I opt out, what happens to the mesh network around where I live?

On Sept 14, 2011 at the CPUC opt-out workshop, PG&E’s “smart” meter representative Jim Meadows stated that for every ten people who opt out, they will be forced to install one pole-top data collector unit (DCU) in order to close a “hole” in their mesh network. Those opting out would have no say over where that unit would be installed, raising serious questions about other ways a customer could be exposed to the network’s RF radiation. They were asked, but did not answer, what would happen if whole communities opted out.


10 Responses to FAQ: Mesh Network Issues

  1. Redi Kilowatt says:

    The mesh network being sold by Silver Springs networks is only a part of the revenue collection system.
    Originally, the mesh network taking usage information from the meters was going to be collected and repeated on a proprietary radio network, but then the corporate telecommunications giants like Verizon and AT&T decided that they wanted a piece of the pie, “me some too”.
    They offered to have the ratepayers of the electric and gas utilities pay them for billing data transmission on their existing networks. The utilities corporations that already got the rate increases approved by the Public Utilities Commissions to build their own radio networks said, “go ahead on, whatever’s right” in a religious stupor, amen”. The good lord helps those who helps themselves !
    So now, the mobile phone networks are sucking up money from all sides to expand their networks to handle all the new customers on their networks that are the suckers who have SmartMeters.
    The problem is that this meter project was ramrodded through in all areas without any testing to see if it worked first. And guess what ?, in Marin county not even 30 percent of the meters billing is actually being received by the mobile networks.
    Oh yes indeed, all the meters are transmitting 24/7, but those transmissions are being transmitted for nothing at all, and the meters in most of Marin are still read manually by meter readers .
    The program was a very smart scam cooked up to sell an elaborate radio system to the ratepayers. It really doesn’t matter at all if it doesn’t work. What PG&E has done in Marin due intense pressure from the owners of PG&E was to eliminate half of the meter reading department, and make the existing meter readers work overtime to take up the slack, or just estimate some customers usage based on previous records. They can estimate usage legally for 3 months, and then send someone out to do an actual read. It is the new age of no wage, eliminate jobs for the corporate/collective good !

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  3. Robert Richter says:

    I already have a d-link router that works very well. If i get a linksys router for mesh network does that mean I have to disconnect my d- link router to use mesh network with its router or can I still use both. Thanks Bob Richter kb9yxh 73 kb9yxh@yahoo.com

  4. Duncan X. Simpson, K7DXS says:

    I’m still at a loss as to what the problem with smart meters is. The FCC takes care of any possible RF exposure problems. What else is wrong with them?

    Also anybody has the right to install mesh networking devices on their own property or anyone else’s with permission from the owner. I use an Amateur Radio mesh network for high speed data using point to point links here in Tucson, AZ.

  5. Steve Noskowicz says:

    I am sorry, but this is simply false panic mongering. I can understand the confusion caused because the word “radiation” is used for the dangerous nuclear emissions, but that same word is used for other things such as the way dirt debris radiates away from a moon impact crater as well as heat from a campfire, light from a bulb and radio signals. There is absolutely no reason to believe that common Radio Frequency (RF) signals are harmful to health. Radio transmission has been around for well over a hundred years now and there have been no credible examples of harm to anyone including those working with it every day and at much higher power levels that these meters as well as cellular, WiFi and BlueTooth. If you have seen any so-called studies claiming to show some harm, they have been already discredited as either false, or seriously flawed as a meaningful study.YOUR CELLPHONE up to your head exposes you to MUCH, MUCH, M U C H more RF that these meters can.
    Yes, meter readers loose jobs, just like gaslight lamplighters and many others lost their jobs in the past. but that it the price of technology and progress. However other jobs are also created, but may require training. Should coal be kept as a major energy source just to keep those jobs around?
    If you have a remote, outside thermometer / weather-station, It uses RF.
    Police, fire and any public safety are around their radio transmitters all day.
    Your MICROWAVE has about 1,000 watts of RF radiating your food and all it does is heat it!
    RF being absorbed in things simply heats them. Are you afraid of heat?

    “these tend to have higher emissions and (we believe) tend to be more associated with reported health problems.” This has no basis whatsoever, so is a false belief.

    RE: “powerful set of receivers and transmitters on each and every house” Do you have any idea how much power? BTW, there is no such thing as a “powerful receiver” they receive (pick up) signals that are many. many orders of magnitude below what it transmitted because the signals spread out and get so weak only feet from the transmitter and continue to do so for the rest of that mile.

    RE: “Each meter transmits for incredible distances”. A mile at best is hardly “incredible “. This is nothing but ludicrous.

    RE: “a cell phone antenna facility mounted on the side of their house”. Cell site transmitters are on the order of 10-20 watts and high up on towers. These are, perhaps 0.01 watt.

    RE: ” we just don’t know”. Ignorance is no crime. I’m clearly ignorant of brain surgery techniques, but I don’t go around arguing (from this ignorance) that brain surgeons don’t know what their doing, nor trying to convince others that my ignorance is cause for their worry. That is stupidity.

    RE: “ALL of the meter types below are ‘smart’ and are associated with health and safety problems”

    RE: “years of unmitigated cell-phone use inside corporate offices buzzing with electro-smog.”
    How long have so many people been holding cell phones right up AGAINST THEIR HEADS, yet EVERYONE has not contracted some related (though obscurely referenced here) heath issue??? PLEASE explain this problem…

    P.S. I googled to learn more about this technology and found this. Now I know they use mesh networks which I understand. The installer said he was led to believe they communicate direct to satellite, which was clearly technically unreasonable.

    RE: “It is most certainly ignorant, arrogant, and dangerous.”
    PLEASE provide specifics on this so clear a “danger”… after a hundred years of RF exposure to EVERYONE…?

    RE: “Those opting out would have no say over where that unit would be installed,”
    You currently have had no say in many other radio transmitter installations for police, fire, public safety, WiFi, Radio, TV, etc. for many decades.

    The electric companies in many areas have already been doing similar things to automatically re-route power around outages keeping other customers powered by finding alternate connections where and use radios to change the connections automatically.

    People deed to get educated and not spread false fear.
    P.S. I do not work for any power company. I simply understand this all, very well.

  6. DT says:

    Steve Noskowicz

    Something on the side of your house that is powerful enough to transmit wireless signals for a mile distance doesn’t sound incredible to you? Sounds dangerous to me. You mention WiFi, but not one WiFi router out there transmits anywhere near a freaking mile!


    You trust organisations blindly with every aspect of your life or just your health? I for one question things if they sound questionable, no matter what an authority is saying.

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