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Communications

The Trilliant Platform Communications:

Purpose-Built for Utilities

Communications technology is at the heart of the smart grid, allowing utilities to measure, control, and optimize their distribution systems, and to enable Smart DistributionSmart Metering, and Smart Consumer applications.  All of these applications depend on communications reliable enough for operation in the toughest territories and environments, spanning a broad spectrum of technical requirements from high scale (millions of devices) to high speed (millisecond latency), and with security rated for Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP).  The communications technologies at the core of Trilliant’s Platform are purpose built to address these needs.

Trilliant’s platform was built to ensure utilities can use a single, unified platform, while choosing the right technology to fit the territory, regulatory environment, and rollout strategy.  The combination of advanced technologies integrated into the Trilliant Platform have all been chosen to ensure the highest performance communications, broad and economical communications coverage, adherence to local regulatory requirements, and scalable to support the world’s largest utilities – all managed by a unifying software package Unity Suite.  Further, the platform directly addresses many of the smart grid’s thorniest challenges:

Multi-technology platform

  • AMI mesh, broadband mesh, PLC, and cellular
  • Common business processes independent of communications
  • Natively built to support evolution of communications technologies

Device independent

Proven

The platform includes a variety of communications technologies:

The Trilliant SecureMesh WAN, part of the Trilliant Communications Platform, is a broadband mesh network built specifically for utilities that provides the reliability, bandwidth and low latency necessary for advanced Smart Distribution applications such as Volt/VAR control, fault detection, isolation and restoration (FDIR), and other real-time smart distribution applications.

The Trilliant broadband SecureMesh WAN uniquely addresses utility communications needs:

  • Utility-Grade Reliability and Redundancy
    • Trilliant’s SecureMesh WAN is built on the company’s award-winning mesh technology, which is inherently redundant and reliable. The system features integrated dynamic routing and near-immediate failover to ensure uninterrupted communications.
    • Trilliant’s UnitySuite™ Network Element Management System (NEMS), which provides a single platform for managing both AMI and WAN deployments, simplifies smart grid  communications for utilities and enables economic, reliable, and real-time network management.
  • Industry-Leading Latency and Bandwidth
    • Extending our lead in speed, Trilliant has further reduced the latency of SecureMesh WAN in the 1100 Series, cutting its already impressive time per hop down to less than 7 milliseconds, and thereby supporting the most demanding distribution automation applications.
    • With 20 Mbps per second throughputthe newly-enhanced 1100 Series supports orders of magnitude more capacity than mesh networks traditionally used for AMI.
    • New application domain partitioning functionality allows utilities to segment applications from each other to uniquely satisfy each application’s specific Quality of Service (QoS) needs.
  • Integrated, End-to-End Security
    • End-to-end safeguards across multiple layers of the OSI stack ensure that the SecureMesh WAN network remains private and secure.
    • The SecureMesh WAN is compliant with the latest industry security standards, including the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s Critical Infrastructure Protection reliability standard (NERC/CIP) and is consistent with the requirements of NISTIR 7628 and NIST SP 800-53.
    • SecureMesh WAN supports virtual private network (VPN) and Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) capabilities to enable safe and controlled access of the network.
    • Application domain partitioning available on the SecureMesh WAN includes standards-based 802.1q VLAN tagging of network traffic, which ensures that access to or a breach of one application does not affect other applications or devices.
    • SecureMesh WAN supports node-by-node two-way authentication using a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) with x509-like signed certificates and the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-128) encryption.
  • Low-Cost Territory Coverage
    • The SecureMesh WAN 1100 Series now supports up to 12 mesh hops, allowing utilities to cover up to 10,000 square miles of territory with a single network takeout point.  This reduces the cost to cover large service territories for all utilities.
    • The SecureMesh WAN network automatically circumvents barriers, routing around large buildings, mountains, RF interference, and other obstacles, ensuring both low-cost deployment and long-term reliability.
    • The Trilliant SecureMesh WAN now supports secure remote management of the entire WAN network including SSH telnet capability to remote devices.
  • Expanded Interoperability
    • SecureMesh WAN is built on an open, interoperable IP platform, supporting both legacy IPv4 and future IPv6 protocols
    • SecureMesh WAN is compatible with a wide variety of legacy devices and can seamlessly work with a wide range of existing distribution assets
    • SecureMesh WAN has proven interoperability with devices made by ABB, Cooper, GE, Schneider Electric and Siemens, among others
    • SecureMesh WAN supports key utility industry standards, including DNP3 and IEC 61850.
    • SecureMesh WAN and the broader Trilliant Communications Platform can also flexibly adapt to meet future standards as they evolve.

Part of the Trilliant Communications Platform, the SecureMesh WAN is a smart investment for utilities that must make prudent decisions today while keeping an eye on future smart grid opportunities. The Trilliant Communications Platform, including the SecureMesh WAN, will allow utilities to eventually manage all smart grid applications – Smart Distribution, Smart Metering, and Smart Consumer — on a single, unified network.

Network components include:

The Global Standard for RF Mesh AMI

Utilities around the world are recognizing the benefits of using private RF mesh networks for smart grid communications.  Private networks offer the advantage of being utility owned and operated, minimizing operational expense and maximizing reliability.  Trilliant has been a leader with the first large-scale RF mesh AMI deployment, the first standards-based solution on the market using the 802.15.4 radios, and the only vendor with an integrated multi-tier architecture supporting both low-latency distribution automation and Smart Metering applications.   As the leading provider of 2.4 GHz RF Mesh AMI systems, Trilliant is the recognized global leader.

Trilliant’s approach is unique.  Trilliant chose a standard 2.4 GHz radio as the core of the mesh to ensure our customer have both the protection of a standards-based solution and the operational benefits of a high-data-rate solution.  This benefit has paid off for our customers in higher reliability, better territory coverage, and better support for a broad range of smart grid applications.  Trilliant’s RF Mesh AMI solution has spanned dense urban environments to very sparse rural environments, and is the only RF Mesh AMI platform that can be used worldwide.

Open Standard Communication

Trilliant’s RF Mesh AMI uses at its core the radio and protocol standards to ensure a future-proof and interoperable systems.  Embracing IEEE radio standards (802.15.4), communications protocols (both today’s dominant standard IPv4 and IPv6), and  metering protocols (ANSI and DLMS/COSEM), Trilliant’s RF Mesh AMI has been widely supported by a broad range of ecosystem partners.

Security

With utility grids being part of a nation’s critical infrastructure, and with the significant harm that could arise from malicious attacks, Trilliant has invested heavily in ensuring the RF Mesh AMI system is highly secure.  Working with the industry’s leading security experts, and Trilliant’s recognized security experts, Trilliant has built a multi-pronged approach to security including encryption, authorization, authentication, and providing for security isolation between not only individual devices, but also between different utility applications.  This security architecture addresses concerns about using a shared infrastructure for Smart DistributionSmart Metering, and Smart Consumer applications, and protects against internal and external threats.

Optimized Territory Coverage

Trilliant’s 2.4 GHz RF Mesh AMI system is built to support coverage of both dense urban and sparse rural areas.  The standards-based IEEE 802.15.4 radio, so Trilliant’s customers get the benefit of direct-sequence spread spectrum, an advanced radio technology that provides excellent immunity to interference and multi-path fading, which can impact narrowband 900 MHz radios.  Trilliant’s radio and antenna design expertise has come across with our customers’ success with economical deployments in both dense environments (more than 2,000 customers per square kilometer) and spares rural (down to as low as one customer per square kilometer).  Combined with our advanced Distributed Data eXchange (DDX) technology, Trilliant is able to support large-scale deployments with high reliability and minimal network infrastructure investment – ensuring a cost-effective deployment.

The RF Mesh AMI system includes both network infrastructure and embedded meter modules to support integration to third party hardware:

  • SecureMesh Collector – a communications gateway that coordinates communication within the SecureMesh NAN. It operates as the intermediary data concentrators, collecting and filtering data from groups of SecureMesh-enabled meters and economically sharing wide area network resources — making communication more affordable while ensuring high performance.
  • SecureMesh Repeaters – an intermediate wireless node in the SecureMesh NAN to relay messages to and from SecureMesh-enabled electric meters, gas meters, and in-building devices.
  • SecureMesh Meter Modules – automatically establish alternative SecureMesh Collector relationships based on application performance settings to ensure timely and secure delivery of data. SecureMesh Collector devices act as self-organizing conduits to multiple wide area network resources.
  • WAN/NAN Bridge – a bridge product that integrates an access point for the SecureMesh NAN with a SecureMesh WAN node, allowing the SecureMesh WAN to provide direct support for backhaul to the SecureMesh NAN access point.
  • UnitySuite Software – a smart meter data management system that performs data acquisition (or control) over high bandwidth and with greater reliability than proprietary network solutions. Organized data is delivered to the enterprise systems via device management and enterprise data web services.

Discover the Power of Trilliant M2M Smart Metering

The Trilliant M2M Smart Metering System provides Machine-to-Machine (M2M) smart metering communication capabilities using cellular/mobile networks. It is designed to bridge the gap between utilities and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) by creating a M2M smart metering service that encompasses both the advanced smart energy function of the Trilliant Platform and the flexibility of a cellular/mobile smart meter rollout.  Purpose-built for Smart Meter deployments, the Smart Metering M2M system is secure, scalable and flexible.

M2M Smart Meter deployments are increasingly being viewed as a flexible, low-risk and low-cost way of rolling out smart meters to a range of properties, as well as offering a future upgrade path to higher bandwidth services into the home.  With M2M networks proven and trusted the world over, they are a natural place to find connectivity for Smart Metering and Smart Grid projects.

Trilliant has extensive experience of deploying M2M smart metering systems, in the US, the UK and elsewhere around the world.  The Trilliant’s CellReader and Communications Hub solutions, which are part of the Trilliant Platform, are just two examples of Trilliant’s robust M2M solutions that have been extensively deployed on leading MNO networks globally. The M2M Smart Metering System further extends this proven Trilliant Platform, combining a global 2.4 GHz RF mesh, M2M cellular, broadband mesh and other standards-based technologies to give utilities the flexibility to choose the right technology for the territory, regulatory environment, and rollout strategy, all while meeting cost and performance targets.   The Trilliant platform is used today by utilities serving more than 70 million customers around the globe.

The Trilliant M2M Smart Meter System offers tremendous benefits to a rich ecosystem of customers and partners:

  • For Utilities:
    • Offers full, integrated, proven, smart metering solutions with world-class security, robust scalability and performance
    • Supports multiple meter-vendors, enabling better risk mitigation for utilities
    • Offers compliance with multiple technical standards
    • Enables utilities to take advantage of a low-risk, cost-effective solution
  • For Mobile Network Operators:
    • Provides MNOs with full, proven smart metering solutions, purpose-built for utilities
    • Enables MNOs to enhance M2M services and effectively compete with other network technologies in the utilities vertical
    • Enables sales acceleration and channel partnerships
    • Complementary to existing M2M platforms
  • For Meter Vendors:
    • Enables low-cost adoption of a comprehensive solution
    • Enables fast time to market
    • Offers full standards compliance
    • Enables more robust channel partnerships

The Trilliant M2M Smart Metering System includes a number of leading innovations:

  • Purpose-built for Smart Metering
    • Full-featured support for utility metering processes such as meter reading, connect/disconnect, time-of-use tariffs and data privacy
    • Extended support for future enhancement such as pre-pay, debt recovery, meter disablement and enablement
    • Meter-agnostic, with built-in support for DLMS/COSEM and ANSI standards-based meters
  • Optimized use of M2M networks
    • Autonomous data push for scheduled activities
    • Engineered to reduce network congestion
    • Built to work in the constrained environment of legacy IPv4 networks, and to exploit the benefits of new IPv6 networks
    • Supports customisable roaming rules
    • Compatible with 2G, 3G and 4G networks
  • Advanced security and customer data protection
    • Mutual device authentication
    • Secure data transfers with digital envelopes and Transport Layer Security (TLS)
    • Certificate and key rotation and certificate revocation
    • Application-level authentication and role based access control (RBAC)
  • Scalable for the largest utilities
    • Highly-efficient, multi-threaded task engine
    • Modularised application architecture
    • Horizontal scalability of cloud software through virtual machines
    • Full over-the-air (OTA) upgrade support for Scalable for the largest utilities
  • Access to Trilliant’s proven multi-technology platform
    • Trilliant’s broad platform allows utility customers to choose the right technology to meet cost and performance targets

Trilliant Communications Hub

The Trilliant Communications Hub is one example of the Trilliant’s M2M Smart Metering System, which provides Machine-to-Machine (M2M) smart metering communication capabilities using cellular/mobile networks.  Purpose-built for Smart Meter deployments, the Smart Metering M2M system is secure, scalable and flexible.

The Trilliant Communications Hub is the first generally available communications hub designed to support smart meter deployments and the first to address issues of multi-supplier and multi-device interoperability from the ground up. The Communications Hub is designed for European markets and offers both GPRS WAN and Zigbee Smart Energy Profile 1.1 HAN connectivity in a single, integrated package.  In addition to this, the hub supports the emerging dual protocol of DLMS over Zigbee, ensuring that interoperability with a multitude of Zigbee enabled devices is simple to achieve.  The roadmap includes introduction of other WAN and HAN communications technologies such as mesh and long range radio to ensure future proofed interoperability.

The innovative Hub solution delivers a common solution to the power industry that helps energy providers and consumers realize the tremendous benefits of the Smart Grid. And with local storage and configurability, the Hub keeps airtime charges on the wireless network to a minimum, while ensuring scalable performance to support tens of millions of meters.

Benefits

The Hub allows various retailers and energy suppliers to deliver their smart services into households, offering transparency to the consumer on energy cost and usage, and allows them to make smarter decisions about their energy use. It also allows multiple devices which contribute to home energy usage to be monitored, whilst also offering retailers the opportunity to provide value-added benefits which will increase customer satisfaction.

Communications Bridge

  • Dual radio design integrates both Home Area Network (HAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) connectivity
  • Connects electric meters, gas meters, in-home display units, and smart energy devices

 HAN Device Support

  • ZigBee Smart Energy Profile 1.1 (with support of Smart Specification Working Group metering extensions)
  • Connects to multiple smart energy devices

 Simple Installation and Deployment

  • Attaches directly to meter board, powered from the electric meter
  • Commissioned locally via ZigBee with a handheld terminal

Configurable and Upgradeable

  • Configurable over-the-air from the head-end
  • Supports over-the-air firmware upgrades for itself and all associated HAN devices

 Security

  • Built-in proven security technology
  • Authenticates all devices on the network and secures all data

Technology

Using the ZigBee Smart Energy Profile (SEP), the Hub operates as a central point in a HAN of up to 16 Smart Energy devices.  The Hub compiles metering data from multiple devices and reports the data back to the Head-End Software as configured, typically during non-peak periods.  Communications via the WAN are minimized so that power consumption is very low even while maintaining connections with all associated HAN devices.

WAN connectivity is supported by a quad-band GPRS radio.  The Hub employs standard IP protocols for communications to and from the Head-End Software and, additionally, SMS messaging is used to allow on-demand requests from the Head-End Software to the Hub.  The primary service provider and roaming network information are configurable, enabling communications wherever GPRS service is available.  The WAN antenna is internal, but an SMA connector supports an optional external antenna for installations in areas of poor cellular coverage.

CellReader® Digital AMI Cellular Solution

CR Support

CellReader  is one example of the Trilliant’s M2M Smart Metering System, which provides Machine-to-Machine (M2M) smart metering communication capabilities using cellular/mobile networks.  Purpose-built for Smart Meter deployments, the Smart Metering M2M system is secure, scalable and flexible.

The CellReader solution is a network interface card (NIC) that is installed under-the-glass of solid-state C&I electric meters providing two-way communications over public cellular networks.

Since 2003, Trilliant has been the leading provider of digital cellular communication products for AMI and Smart Grid remote data applications.  The CellReader products are a system-wide complement to Trilliant’s industry-leading wireless SecureMesh products offering customers a broad selection of Smart Grid communications technology.

Trilliant’s CellReader products are compatible with the following C&I meters:

CellReader module for GE kV2EPS meter

  • GE’s kV2 EPS meter
  • Itron’s SENTINEL meter

CellReader products are certified and in operation on most North American CDMA/1xRTT networksas well as international UMTS/HSPA networks.  The CellReader communication modules are truly plug-n-play, employing the ANSI C12 open standards to support remote data access to the C12.19 data tables within the meter through the TCP/IP connectivity provided by the cellular network.  The CellReader module supports all three levels of the meter’s ANSI password security in addition to the security provided by use of the WAN Access Control List.

With a CellReader module, a utility can use existing operational assets such as Itron’s MV-90xi or Trilliant’s Unity Suite Head-End Software without requiring any additional software, as well as native meter tools such as:

  • Itron PC Pro+ Advanced

    CellReader module for Itron SENTINEL® meter

  • GE MeterMate

CellReader-equipped meters can be used to create a new AMI deployment of C&I meters, extend the coverage of existing mesh AMI or Smart Grid networks to unreachable C&I meters, conduct specific load research projects, or to replace meters previously supported over analog cellular services or telephone lines.  Easy to install, with no external power supply or batteries, CellReader modules provide a cost-effective way to remotely access load profile, register and diagnostic meter data.

CellReader modules can be easily retrofitted into your existing meter inventory, or fully integrated CellReader-equipped meters can be ordered direct from the meter manufacturers.