T&D World Magazine
Silver Spring Networks Introduces Fifth Generation Networking Platform

Silver Spring Networks Introduces Fifth Generation Networking Platform

Advancements in Speed, Latency, Range, Distributed Intelligence, Power Optimization and Size; Introduces “Milli 5” for New Classes of IoT Sensors and Devices

Silver Spring Networks, Inc. has unveiled the fifth generation of its critical infrastructure networking platform – Gen5. In addition to strengthening core smart grid operations, the new capabilities of the Gen5 platform help enable an emerging set of applications for real-time operations data, Distribution Automation, dynamic applications at the edge of the network, and smart city services. Silver Spring introduced several new Gen5-based products, including the “Milli” Communications Module (Comms Module) 5, which removes many of the cost, power, and size limitations to reliable communications for small, battery-powered edge sensors, unlocking a new era of connectivity for the Internet-of-Things (IoT).

Enhancements of the Gen5 networking platform include:

  • Speed: up to 1.2 Mbps, a 4X increase in speed, accelerating the transition from hours or days-old data to near real-time insights into grid operations and performance;
  • Latency: nearly 3X reduction in latency to 10 milliseconds, enabling performance-intensive applications for increased grid reliability and Distribution Automation;
  • Range: 3X increase in range to more than 50 miles, enabling cost-effective coverage across vast and varying topographies, and the ability to reliably connect hard-to-reach and rural devices;
  • Distributed Intelligence: 10X more compute and up to 8X the memory, unlocking an array of new applications at the edge of the network such as theft detection, distributed generation integration, and faster outage detection and restoration;
  • Power Optimization and Size: almost 2X more operational life and 5X more coverage at 1/5th the power consumption and nearly 7X smaller than previous form factors, enabling the connection of historically cost-prohibitive or power-starved devices and sensors for up to 20-years in the field.

New Gen5-Based Products for the Next Generation of Connected Devices

Silver Spring announced several new products based on the Gen5 networking platform:

  • Comms Module 5: The Comms Module 5 offers high performance, local processing, and low latency for critical applications such as load disaggregation, integration of distributed generation, Demand Response Ancillary services, theft detection, and the flexibility to cost-effectively reach devices in challenging terrain. With utilities facing a rapid rise in distributed generation and renewables integration challenges, simultaneous two-way communication allows operators to do more at faster speeds, while managing traffic for high-performance applications, such as grid-side management, to help ensure quality for all customers.
  • Bridge 5: The Bridge 5 couples secure, reliable performance with open standards-based IPv6 communications to help enable cities and utilities to cost-effectively integrate mission-critical control and monitoring processes. The Bridge 5 is optimized for performance-intensive applications that demand higher capacity, lower latency, and longer range such as Distribution Automation, Conservation Voltage Reduction (CVR), Volt/VAR Optimization, feeder switches, capacitor bank controls, and others. The flexibility and ease of integration available with the Bridge 5 also allows for rapid deployment of new smart city services such as traffic monitoring and building energy management.
  • Access Point (AP) 5 and the Relay 5 deliver the ubiquitous coverage, high performance, and cost efficiency required for effective critical infrastructure application deployments.

Powering a New Class of Sensors and Devices for Critical Infrastructure and the IoT

Silver Spring also announced a new networking form factor nearly 7X smaller than previous versions, the “Milli 5”, a mesh-enabled sensor networking platform to connect small, battery-powered devices for emerging smart energy, smart city, and other IoT applications. The “Milli 5” can enable applications such as smart gas and water metering, waste management sensors, smart parking monitors, pollution and emissions sensors, industrial equipment monitoring, and smart agriculture sensors, among others, to reliably operate for up to 20 years in the field, without sacrificing the multi-layer security, standards compliance, and IPv6 addressing required by sophisticated IoT operators.

The economics and small size of the “Milli 5” also mean that utilities and cities can now make the business case to reliably connect almost any device on their networks, gaining asset-level communications for equipment such as transformers, light poles, and other infrastructure. In particular, water utilities have an increasing need for reliable, two-way communication systems that can run off of battery power to help improve efficiency of their systems and report leaks in near real-time.

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