Wi-Fi for the smart grid – a mature, interoperable, security protected technology


Edgar Figueroa,
Executive Director,
Wi-Fi Alliance
Austin, TX, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — November 12, 2009 – Wi-Fi is mature, proven technology that implements many of the smart grid application scenarios, and Wi-Fi networks can be deployed to meet the smart grid requirements for robustness, manageability, performance and security.

Moreover, Wi-Fi technology has an ongoing roadmap of innovation and established mechanisms for collaboration (via the Wi-Fi Alliance and IEEE) to meet the evolving needs of smart grid applications well into the future.

This is according to a new report from the Wi-Fi Alliance, which is aimed at addressing growing momentum in the Wi-Fi industry and helping ensure Wi-Fi technology and certification programs continue to support evolving smart grid requirements.

The report, “Wi-Fi® for the Smart Grid: Mature, Interoperable, Security-Protected Technology for Advanced Utility Management Communications,” details the use of Wi-Fi for smart grid applications in home, neighborhood, and wide area networks. Ten years after its initial introduction to the market, Wi-Fi has proven to be a versatile technology, performing well as a low power solution for short range data transmission, as a high performance network for the digital home, and as a scalable solution to cover large outdoor areas such as campuses and neighborhoods.

“This is an exciting opportunity to build on Wi-Fi’s strong base in home and enterprise networking to fully realize the benefits of the smart grid,” said Wi-Fi Alliance executive director Edgar Figueroa. “Our industry has a mature production and certification ecosystem to keep Wi-Fi technology affordable and interoperable. Our members are creating products now to address the entire spectrum of connectivity, from in-home to across town.”

Regarding use of Wi-Fi for the smart grid, the report notes that all Wi-Fi devices support the Internet Protocol (IP), both IPv4 and IPv6, so no new work is needed for full IP support. For the Smart Energy Profile, Version 2.0 is transportable by Wi-Fi and the only work required for an implementer would be to port SEP 2.0 software to Wi-Fi-based devices. Similarly, for the IEC 61850 protocol (for substation automation) the only new work required for an implementer would be porting IEC 61850 to Wi-Fi-based devices.

In addition to releasing the report, the Wi-Fi Alliance has formalized its newly established smart grid task group. The group, which will be chaired by Mark Thompson, vice-president of strategic communication networks at Aclara, will provide technical expertise to utilities, government officials, and other interested parties on the various properties of Wi-Fi that make it suitable for smart grid, and will assess how the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ testing program may be extended to support smart grid devices and applications.

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED testing is performed at a worldwide network of 13 independent Wi-Fi Alliance authorized test labs in China, Germany, India, Korea, Japan, Spain, Taiwan and the U.S., and more than 6,000 product certifications have been completed since its inception.