Radio Teleswitching: History

Radio Teleswitching is the transmission of digital data on radio for alarm, control and information to locations throughout the reception area of the radio transmissions.

The idea of using existing national broadcasting infrastructure for sending teleswitching signals was considered back in 1964 and was originally primarily intended for load management, to enable the switching on of large numbers of night storage heaters and water heaters to be staggered to avoid sudden large increases in load as night rate systems cut in. More recently, it has been developed as a tariffing system.

There are thought to be in excess of 3 million RTS equipped meters in the field. However, the idea had to wait for technology to catch up with it and when this happened over a decade later, Radio Teleswitching began to emerge as a practical proposition. Following the successful conclusion of extensive trials which started in 1979, the relevant authorities approved Radio Teleswitching transmissions on the BBC's national 198 kHz frequency radio broadcasts.

An important condition of the approval was that the radio teleswitching data should not impair the reception of BBC Radio 4 news and entertainment programmes normally transmitted on that long wave frequency. This was adequately demonstrated in the trials.

Fully operational Radio Teleswitching facilities became available in 1984. By being first in establishing Radio Teleswitching on a national scale as a fully operational, cost effective communication system for use in energy management, the electricity industry gave the UK a world lead in this field. The technique won the Queen's Award for Technology.

The industry holds a patent on the development and issues licences to approved manufacturers of Radio Teleswitch receiver controllers. The devices are normally simple, competitive in price, highly reliable and capable of being locally or remotely controlled.

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