This invention relates to a method and apparatus for accessing customer meters and for controlling customer devices over a telephone line. A suppressed ringing connection is established over a customer line between a central office and customer station equipment. The connection is between a data accessing device such as a meter reading controller and a customer premises device such as a meter interface unit. Signals are exchanged over the connection between these two units without alerting the customer via a ringing signal and without changing the supervisory state of the customer's station equipment from on-hook. The connection can also be used for controlling devices such as air conditioning units, in order, for example, to avoid overloads in a power distribution system. The voice switching network of the central office is used for making the connection between the meter control unit and the meter interface unit. Advantageously, this arrangement can allow a large number of utility meters and controlling devices to be accessed remotely using existing telephone plant.
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