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June 18, 2010

Arch Rock Unveils Internet Standards-Based Wireless Mesh Platform for Smart Grids



The push by the federal government's National Institute of Standards and Technology or "NIST" and the big utilities companies for the use of Internet standards in the Smart Grid signifies that the days of proprietary solutions are numbered.
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A strong proponent of the embedded IP and Web standards that are now playing a major role in Smart Grid infrastructure, Arch Rock Corporation announced it has introduced PhyNet-Grid, the first advanced metering infrastructure or "AMI" and grid communication platform based entirely on industry-standard IP networking, security and data-collection protocols.
 
The platform is designed for licensing to AMI and home-area network or "HAN" vendors who want to move their partly or fully proprietary product lines to standards-based, and for makers of meters and other grid components wishing to offer comprehensive AMI solutions, the company said.
 
PhyNet-Grid implements open standards at all layers, so it lets OEMs craft fully interoperable wireless meshed IPv6-based smart-meter solutions that will offer their utility customers investment protection and multi-vendor compatibility for years to come.
 
The technology provides "an all-standard, two-way communication path from millions of widely dispersed meters or other "Smart Grid" devices to centralized utility applications or Meter Data Management Systems or "MDMS," according to company officials.
 
PhyNet-Grid uses standard interfaces, so it can work with any vendor's meters and distribution network devices. Company officials claim it's the first platform to offer real-time meter data collection and the ability to continue working even during a power outage. When power outage occurs, it switches to low-power operation and avoid an hours-long rebuild of the mesh network.
 
The platform provides unlimited scalability and high availability through multi-router, distributed and adaptive IPv6 routing that supports millions of nodes. Its always-on, two-way interaction with meters, allows options for data collection in either real-time or scheduled/batch mode.
 
Its distributed mesh routing algorithms (IETF ROLL), combined with distributed frequency-hopping (FHSS) algorithms ensures resilience and robustness. It offers powerful public key infrastructure or "PKI"-based security services at multiple layers using the latest open standards in cryptographic algorithms and protocols.
Another feature of PhyNet-Grid is the embedded Web services, delivering data over IEC CIM via embedded HTTP and W3C (News - Alert) EXI.
 
According to Arch Rock, vendors who start integrating the technology into their products today can expect to have pilot deployments with their utility customers by late 2010.
 
"Up to now two types of AMI networks have been available to utilities," Roland Acra, Arch Rock CEO, said. "One type was closed, proprietary RF mesh or power line communication-based systems; the other type was IP-based but cost-prohibitive because it used public wireless networks that required putting a cell phone in every meter or building an even costlier new, dedicated WiMAX (News - Alert) infrastructure."
 
"PhyNet-Grid combines the new and established work of industry standards bodies in radios, Internet protocols, web services and powerful security mechanisms with the cost-effectiveness of Arch Rock's advanced real-time RF mesh network," Acra added.
In May Arch Rock announced it has expanded its IPv6-based PhyNet WSN family with the addition of a new entry-level server, RSS-2000AT, which is tailored for small-scale or short-term sensor deployments in commercial facilities and data centers, TMCnet reported.

Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Marisa Torrieri
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