Thursday, April 29, 2010

DS2 Announces Availability of Wideband Powerline Communications AMI for Future Proof Smart Grid Applications

DS2 Announces Availability of Wideband Powerline Communications AMI for future proof Smart Grid applications

Valencia, SPAIN, 26th April 2010 – DS2, a leading technology innovator and global supplier of high-speed, robust, and scalable powerline silicon, today announced the availability, for the global utility market, of DS2's Wideband PLC Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) silicon and firmware package and its AMI Evaluation Kit. The solution combines DS2’s UPA wideband powerline communications hardware operating on the 2-12 MHz range with a software package field-tested and optimised for AMI. It includes the DR200 Head End Reference Design package for the service aggregation point, the DE95B embedded module Reference Design for Smart Meters and specialised Alma AMI Firmware. The package offers full and comprehensive AMI functionality with the ability to reach the most remote parts of the grid. DS2's AMI Evaluation Kit is a fully functioning version of the DS2 AMI package allowing DS2 customers to test the concept and accelerate the development of Smart Grid products for the utility market.

The DS2 Wideband PLC AMI package provides a true plug and play mesh network. When a new meter node is connected to the network, it is automatically recognised ...

Monday, April 26, 2010

HomePlug powers onward as connected home play

In the home networking standards game, the HomePlug Powerline Alliance is sometimes overshadowed by Home Phoneline Networking Alliance and the Multimedia over Coax Alliance, but a closer relationship with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is raising its profile.

This week, the IEEE P1901 Working Group passed an initial sponsor ballot that moves the group closer to a likely third-quarter final approval of the standard, for which the HPPA’s HomePlug AV specification was used as the baseline technology. That approval will formalize ensured interoperability between 1901 and HomePlug AV products, and bring HomePlug more into the IEEE’s highly-marketable family of standards that also includes Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The initial sponsor ballot passage also came just days after the IEEE said it was facilitating cooperation between the HPPA and the HD-PLC Alliance, another group focused on getting powerline technology into broadband households. The result is a joint certification program for co-existence between their technologies, which helps smooth the various, often regional and industry-vertical differences between devices with 1901 standard interfaces.

“It’s not a huge leap now to make HomePlug AV and 1901 chips compatible,” said Rob Ranck, president of the HPPA. “Having the aligned standards is also important for market stability. You will no longer have a fragmented environment around powerline technology for home networking and smart grid.”

The HPPA will serve as the certification group for 1901 products, playing the same sort of role that the Wi-Fi Alliance and the WiMAX Forum play in their respective technology camps. Also like those programs, the HPPA will test both chip compliance to the standard and interoperability. The group will use the same testing house in France that it has used to certify more than 200 HomePlug products, half of which are HomePlug AV products, Ranck said.

With the IEEE bond, Ranck also sees more integration with Wi-Fi on the horizon. “The market for powerline technology is really coalescing at this point, and I think the coming trend you’ll see is more work on integrating HomePlug with Wi-Fi,” he said. That evolution seemingly would put the powerline technology in a better position to handle content sharing between portable and fixed devices in the home, and to reach a greater number of household devices with smart grid applications.

Speaking of smart grid, with broadband over powerline technology fading into more of a niche-oriented solution, and more parties, including telcos, looking more inside the home at smart grid, the HPPA is close to finalizing its low-power "Green PHY" specification, which was announced in January. Ranck said an update on that would be forthcoming in the next month or so, which should keep the spec aligned with the timing of other smart grid standardization efforts.