An improved wireless enabled metering system is now being tested by Thames Water.

SmartReach, a collaboration of Arqiva, BT, BAE Systems Detica and Sensus, has announced the extension of its smart meter and smart grid trial in the Reading area, to include London.

The SmartReach system has been used in the Reading trial to demonstrate the suitability of a long-range radio based communications network for communicating with water meters.

This extension to the trial will enable Thames Water and SmartReach to assess the performance of the communications system from locations with different housing stock and difficult to reach, underground meter locations.

Ensuring that the utility companies can connect smart meters to the network first time, and that communication can be established with all meters, will be critical factors in successfully achieving the government's 2019 deadline for the deployment of smart energy meters to all homes and small premises.

SmartReach has been running trials with Scottish Power, SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) and Thames Water to demonstrate the suitability of long-range radio for dedicated smart meter communications, for energy as well as for water networks.

Dr Piers Clark, commercial director at Thames Water, said: "Smart water metering will play a critical role in helping the water industry to better manage consumption and leakage. We believe that long-range radio offers a simple, quick, non-obtrusive and efficient means of building a smart water meter network."

Clark said the system promises far more available data on water flows, that will help Thames Water to manage consumer demand and pinpoint leakages. Extending the scope of the trial to London "will provide further valuable data", he said.

Last week Centrica, the owner of British Gas, said it was slowing its smart metering roll-out until it knew for certain what the government's plans were. The utilities want the government to shoulder a significant chunk of the cost of the roll-out, which is currently estimated at £11.7 billion.