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PGCIL’s Rs 6,000 cr tender for smart meters delayed over tech selection

Power Grid Corporation has extended the deadline for its Rs 6,000 crore tender for procuring smart electricity meters amid industry concerns over the state-run firm opting for old and absolute technology over the latest 5G.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter said PGCIL has extended till September 9 the last date for bidding for its tender to install one crore smart meters that are connected through a web-based monitoring system to record information, such as electricity consumption.

An email sent to Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) for comments remained unanswered.

The government, as part of its ambitious power sector reforms, is looking to replace 25 crore conventional electricity meters with smart meters in the country to cut down on thefts and commercial losses.

In line with the government’s objective to modernise and strengthen the distribution infrastructure, PGCIL in March floated a tender for procurement of smart meters, including associated communication infrastructure.

Communication infrastructure is one of the most critical components in smart metering and the tender initially sought older and dated second generation (2G) and RF mesh frequency but later the tender was modified to include the latest NB-IoT technology along with GPRS as the communication technology.

But, a further revised tender last month excluded the new and 5G-ready NB-IoT technology, according to the sources.

This change has raised eyebrows in the smart meter supplying industry with some of them writing to the company as well as Power Minister RK Singh.

NB-IoT is a cellular communication technology that is accepted globally. It provides enduring cellular technology in 4G as well as 5G deployment and is better for use in high-rises, basements and rural installations of machine-to-machine applications.

“NB-IoT is the latest state-of-the-art technology and is future-proof,” Jio Things Ltd, one of the vendors, wrote to PGCIL on August 26.

Stating that the government recently concluded a highly successful auction of 5G spectrum that will usher in a revolution in communication, it said, “When the capability to offer the latest technology exists in the country, it would be appropriate to include it in the tender and deploy it into the power sector, ensuring the longevity of the systems being put in place”.

It sought the inclusion of NB-IoT as a communication option for smart meters. PTI

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