European utilities asset impairment

PLC PRIME Alliance v1.4jpgPRIME Alliance, the group that promotes open standards for PLC-based smart metering and smart grid deployments, released version 1.4 at European Utility Week at the start of this month.

The white paper presents an overview of specification v1.4 and its unique features.

PRIME version 1.4 includes changes at the PHY and MAC level bringing improvements such as increased robustness and throughput, band expansion, band-plan flexibility and IP version 6 support while ensuring backwards compatibility.

The abstract of PRIME v1.4 White Paper states: "Robust modes enable reliable communications over harsh and exceptional power line channels, and bandwidth extension gives more flexibility and data rates when there are available channels up to 500 kHz, which enables both robustness and high throughput.

"This is one step forward, after having reached field-proven maturity with PRIME v1.3.6. Now the PRIME Alliance is extending the scope of PRIME, turning it into a global technology, developing new flexible features to cope with “harsh” corner cases in Europe and to provide an adaptable,robust technology for smart grid applications."

Global reach

PRIME specifications now support frequency ranges going from the CENELEC A-band (<95kHz) up to 500 kHz.

This expansion to FCC and ARIB band and the associated data-rate upscale opens up new geographic markets, meeting needs specifically for America, Asia Pacific and European electrical grids, the alliance confirms.

Additional transmission modes have been introduced, designed to improve system performance against both high power impulsive noises and interfering noises.

PRIME can be fitted for multiple applications – IEC 61334-4-32, IPv4, IPv6 – which enables a variety of services beyond smart metering.

Legacy smart meters

The inclusion of these new elements implies that PRIME v1.4-compliant devices will be able to support scenarios where they co-exist with legacy PRIME v1.3 meters not implementing these new features. 

This attention to establishing backwards capability is focused on understanding utilities needs to protect investments in existing deployments.  

PLC network security

Security functionality in PRIME has been engineered to the needs of the technology adopters and PRIME v1.4 specifications include cryptographic protection mechanisms at MAC Layer, enabling deployment of a PLC network that is secure even at lowest levels.

Two distinct security profiles allow users to optimise security and performance in their networks. Both profiles utilise 128-bit AES-CCM authenticated encryption; and recognised standards for key management, distribution and generation.

Watch this: PRIME Alliance's vice president Oscar Marquez talks to Metering & Smart Energy International about the new version

(Pic credit: Texas Instruments)