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New IEEE standards designed to help utilities modernize communications infrastructure for smart grids


December 13, 2012
By Anthony Capkun

December 12, 2012 – IEEE announced updates to four wireless communications technologies in the 802 family of standards, as well as a new 802 standards-development project. The new standards support the global utility industry’s needs for smart grid data communications infrastructure, says IEEE, and build on the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) portfolio of more than 100 active IEEE standards or standards in development pertaining to the smart grid.

“Utilities can use the IEEE 802 family of broadband wireless communications standards to modernize their communications and networking infrastructure for advanced metering and other smart grid applications,” said James Gilb, chair of the IEEE 802.24 Technical Advisory Group (TAG). “These new updates to the IEEE 802 standards will enable utilities around the world to build the carrier-grade, high-capacity networks they will need to connect the millions of grid components and end-use devices that will operate on smart grids.”

The new standards include the following:

• IEEE 802.15.4g-2012 Standard for Local and Metropolitan Area Networks – Part 15.4: Low-Rate Wireless Personal Area Networks (LR-WPANs) Amendment 3: Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications for Low-Data-Rate, Wireless, Smart Metering Utility Networks – is a global standard that provides carrier-grade wireless communications connectivity for very large-scale smart metering applications and advanced metering infrastructure used in smart grids.

• IEEE 802.16-2012 Standard for Air Interface for Broadband Wireless Access Systems. The standard supports worldwide deployment of interoperable and multi-vendor broadband wireless access (BWA) products, with ethernet as well as IP interfaces, that utilities can use for machine-to-machine (m2m) smart grid applications.

• IEEE 802.16.1-2012 Standard for WirelessMAN-Advanced Air Interface for Broadband Wireless Access Systems. The standard provides an enhanced air interface and improved capacity for metropolitan-area networks that utilities can use for smart grid m2m communications, as well as mobile voice-based applications, with support for Ethernet as well as IP interfaces.

In addition, IEEE-SA has approved development of a new standard that is intended to enable the handover of groups of wireless data connections between different types of networks in a heterogeneous network. Utilities will be able to use the standard to allow large groups of devices to handover from one network to another to ensure continuous connectivity and service reliability if a part of the network loses connectivity.

IEEE P802.21d Standard for Local and Metropolitan Area Networks—Part 21: Media Independent Handover Services Amendment: Multicast Group Management – is intended to amend IEEE 802.21-2008 by adding support for simultaneous handovers of multiple users.