ABB Wireless has introduced the Tropos 6420, a fourth-generation outdoor broadband mesh router designed to enhance physical security applications in electric utility transmission and distribution substations. The Tropos 6420 includes new features such as 300 Mbps wireless data rate at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, wired Gigabit Ethernet support, and access to 653 MHz of radio frequency spectrum. These features, coupled with the advanced mesh routing and radio resource management capabilities of the embedded Tropos Mesh OS, enable the Tropos 6420 to provide the performance and reliability required to support mission-critical substation physical security applications in addition to time-critical protection and control applications.
Utility substations are increasingly becoming the target of physical security attacks, including trespassing, vandalism, theft, and sabotage. In the past two years, there have been dozens of reported attacks on substations and critical utility infrastructure in the U.S. that posed dangers to life, property and grid operation. Fortunately, the consequences of most were limited. There have, however, been more serious incidents. In one, an intruder shot at a security guard. In another, an act of sabotage took a substation out of service for almost a month. Yet another incident resulted in a power outage to 10,000 customers. The potential for destruction is enormous – a study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) concluded that if saboteurs knocked out nine of the U.S.'s high voltage transmission substations, the country could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout that could last for weeks, if not months. Moreover, in a recent WIRED article, researchers reported that physically breaching a substation is an easy way to launch a cyber-attack.
Tropos 6420 mesh routers enable electric utilities to deploy physical security solutions that deter unauthorized access to property, mitigate damage from physical attacks on critical assets, and provide evidence to aid in the apprehension and prosecution of perpetrators. They provide an advanced communication foundation to support security cameras and thermal imaging/night vision cameras that provide visibility within and outside the substation. A network built from Tropos 6420 mesh routers can also concurrently operate multiple security applications including gunshot location sensors, door alarms, keypads and biometrics for access control, motion detectors and intrusion sensors. Because a Tropos 6420-based network can support multiple applications at the same time, utility security personnel can quickly consult multiple systems, for example, by using streaming or captured video to confirm what triggered a substation motion sensor and allowing them to dispatch the correct personnel, e.g., security, maintenance and/or fire/EMS.
Unlike narrowband SCADA radio and cellular data offerings, Tropos 6420 routers provide the performance and reliability needed to support physical security applications at transmission and distribution substations. In contrast to other wireless systems, Tropos mesh networks are self-healing and can recover connectivity even if saboteurs cut fiber optic and copper cables at the substation.
“Responding to increased threats, regulators are demanding and utilities are implementing stringent physical security measures for transmission and distribution substations,” said Chris Rittler, chief executive officer for ABB Wireless. “Our new Tropos 6420 mesh router provides the high performance and reliability essential for utilities to implement applications that mitigate physical vulnerabilities by active monitoring and prompt response to attacks.”
The Tropos 6420 mesh router uses the capabilities of the 802.11a/b/g/n family of wireless standards to deliver the performance needed to concurrently support multiple substation physical security applications. With access to 653 MHz of RF spectrum, the Tropos 6420 uses more available channels, automatically selecting the best frequency to avoid interference. In addition to 802.11 wireless and 10/100/1000BASE-T wired interfaces, the Tropos 6420 offers serial (RS-232 and RS-485) interfaces with DNP3, Modbus (RTU), Modbus (ASCII) and raw serial support to easily integrate with legacy substation equipment. The Tropos 6420 is IEEE 1613 approved for use in transmission and distribution substations.
The Tropos 6420 is available now and comes with a five-year warranty. An optional GPS and a variety of input power choices are offered for the Tropos 6420. As with all Tropos mesh routers, the Tropos 6420 can be managed using Tropos Control, a robust wireless network management system.