G3-PLC Hybrid: Extended capabilities for the smart grid and IoT


The G3-PLC Alliance, the leading industry alliance for powerline communication (PLC) in smart grid applications, introduces the next generation PLC standard incorporating Radio Frequency (RF) capabilities.

Utilities rightly want the best of both worlds, so creating a single industry standard for hybrid networking is a significant step forward.

What is the next generation of PLC?

G3-PLC is a proven Powerline Communication technology for smart grids used worldwide. It facilitates high-speed, highly-reliable, long-range communication over the existing powerlines offering lowest total cost of ownership and independency on telco operators. The G3-PLC Alliance now introduces an extended profile with radio capabilities: the G3-PLC Hybrid.

The G3-PLC Hybrid is the first industry hybrid standard offering extended capabilities for smart grid and IoT applications in one seamlessly managed network over both media. Each device in the hybrid mesh network can use PLC as well as RF for the communication. Depending on the actual conditions in the field, messages between two devices are sent over the ‘best’ available channel. Channel selection for each link in the network is done automatically and adjusted dynamically. This way, the hybrid profile can provide a more efficient and cost-effective solution for smart grids, smart cities and industrial applications. The hybrid protocol stack is built using open standards IEEE 802.15.4-2015 in addition to the existing ITU-T G.9903 G3-PLC protocol. The G3-PLC Hybrid profile is fully compatible and interoperable with existing G3-PLC implementations, so it is possible to mix hybrid and non-hybrid nodes.

What are the benefits of a hybrid network?

Applications are getting more and more integrated and connecting wireless devices, for example:

The G3-PLC Hybrid opens up new use cases as it extends the connectivity of G3-PLC to RF-only devices and enables communication with water and gas meters. Typically, a Distribution System Operator (DSO) uses multiple technologies in their grids requiring the DSO to manage multiple technologies. Combining PLC and RF in one seamlessly integrated hybrid technology then really simplifies network management!

What is the importance of certification?

In a multi-supplier environment, a key question that arises is: How can a DSO ensure the deployment of interoperable products? G3-PLC Alliance offers a high-quality certification program which provides both vendors and customers assurance that their meters, data concentrators and other devices have the correct implementation of the G3-PLC standard, that they are interoperable with other certified devices and meet the specified performance levels. This summer interoperability of the G3-PLC Hybrid standard has been demonstrated among the chipsets from 5 leading international manufacturers: Microchip, Renesas, STMicroelectronics, Semitech Semiconductor and VertexCom Technologies. The specification for the hybrid profile has been finalised, the certification will open in the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first certified hybrid devices will be available soon after.

Are there any field results already?

The early implementation of the next generation G3-PLC Hybrid (which is still to be certified) has been tested in a tough network in Russia: long distances, strongly varying consumer density & network quality and a large number of noise-generating equipment in PLC as well as in RF. The first results with 5.000 meters showed daily reading rates of 98-99,7%. A full-scale project with 40.000 G3-PLC Hybrid smart meters has now been launched. In India, early trials with the G3-PLC Hybrid also show very good results for daily reading rates, as well as for on-demand requests. Additional large scale trials are planned in the upcoming months in several regions.

For more information contact the G3-PLC members or visit our website

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