T&D World Magazine

Itron Supporting IEEE TG4g Smart Grid Communication Standard

Itron Inc. has announced its support for a future smart grid standard under development from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Itron fully anticipates that its OpenWay smart grid solution, including currently delivered hardware and operational software components, can support full compliance with both the mandatory and optional specifications of IEEE’s Task Group 802.15.4g (TG4g) Smart Utility Network (SUN) proposed standard.

Once fully ratified, TG4g SUN will enable interoperable communications between smart grid devices, including smart meters, to establish common and consistent communication parameters that further define requirements for utilities which have large geographically diverse networks and mass numbers of smart endpoints to support.

Itron participated in the growing momentum around the standard last week, including increasing collaboration within an IEEE working group in Atlanta at the 802 Plenary Meeting. This industry initiative resulted in the development of an amendment to the existing IEEE 802.15.4 standard, including technical requirements that support interoperability and existing deployed smart utility networks. The group of industry stakeholders made major progress in forming the standard’s physical layer specification and have agreed to its main parameters, including communication data rates and modulation to help facilitate global smart grid applications.

“Standards that encourage interoperability are a must for utilities as they embark on this energy revolution, and IEEE TG4g is no exception. OpenWay was designed and architected to embrace these emerging standards and we are confident that both our currently deploying customers and new installations will be able to take advantage of these new capabilities shortly after their ratification,” said Philip Mezey, Itron North America senior vice president and chief operating officer.

Upon successful adoption of TG4g SUN, Itron will demonstrate that OpenWay and the OpenWay CENTRON smart meter already comply in several ways including:

  • Support for optional frequency-shift keying (FSK) modulation with a communication bit rate of 150Kbps, operating within specified frequency bands and parameters
  • Support for mandatory FSK modulation with a communication bit rate of 50Kbps, operating within specified frequency bands and parameters
  • Support for mandatory physical layer packet structure
  • Support for advanced physical layer features including data whitening, forward error correction (FEC), and cyclic redundancy check (CRC) support, all of which are designed to enhance end-to-end system performance
  • Support for physical layer messages of up to 1500 bytes in length; ability to efficiently accommodate IPv6 packets

Following the natural development process, now that the IEEE working group has prepared a draft of the proposed standard, editors for the standard have been instructed to start working on technical specifications documents which will become a baseline draft for the next meeting in January 2010. The draft will then be submitted for balloting approval by IEEE members. The IEEE Standards Association Standards Board Review Committee will then make a recommendation on final ratification to the Standards board. This positions the working group well to publish the standard, in accordance with National Institute of Standards and Technology scheduling, by the end of 2010.

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