Company: Socionext Europe GmbH
Category: Internet of Things Product of the Year
Next-Generation Long-Distance Power Line Communications
for Smart Connected Systems
Socionext’s IoT High Definition-Power Line Communication (HD-PLC) solution provides a secure wired communication for IoT PLC devices that can be connected by using existing infrastructures. It conforms to IEEE1901a and ITU-T G.9905 and the IP core is HD-PLC licensed. Using the 4th generation HD-PLC IP core it creates more freedom for innovative and secure information and data transfer in urban areas, home and factory environments. It can also include the control and screening of devices and appliances including smart grid or smart metering, with a focus on building up a complete eco-system. High-speed communication (up to 240Mbps) and multi-hop, long reach and connectivity of up to 1024 nodes is enabled.
Socionext has more than 40 years of design and development expertise in the semiconductor market and with that experience, and usage of advanced process technologies, has achieved industry-leading small size, low power consumption chip solutions enabling safe and secure long-distance communications.
Establishing a communication network is essential for digital transformation (DX), which is to reduce labor through remote and automatic control of various information devices using technologies such as IoT and AI and ultimately making life easier.
How will it impact the market?
This next generation HD-PLC LSI will play a key role in smart connected, smart grid and smart metering systems and maximizes performance and flexibility, giving a superiority compared to other available PLC solutions.
HD-PLC can be utilized on existing power lines using AC or DC ranging from 0V to several hundreds of volts or any other type of cabling such as, for example, phone lines, twisted-pair or coaxial cables. It has the advantage of reliable, stable, safe & secure transmissions supporting different requirements of Demand Responses (DR). This is mandatory for network providers and operators but is also important to many other applications.
Energy Management System (EMS) applications like energy and electrical utilities need a low latency, real time access to monitor or give access to metering and control of the power grids in a smart and sustainable way.
This is especially true for renewable energy sources like solar, wind or water power farms, where monitoring and controlling the energy intake (incl. storage) and output is crucial to avoid an interruption or breakdown of the power supply or service due to continuous and unpredictable environmental changes. HD-PLC can be a perfect fit as, for example, Solar powered PV (Photovoltaics) has a high affinity with the microinverter system. Here, HD-PLC can be placed under the computer monitoring and control of individual inverters without the need for any additional communication lines. Any problem panels can be quickly found, and the overall generated power maintained by decentration or via re-distribution.
Another important advantage of HD-PLC is the easy build up and extension capabilities of a network at low cost, which can be especially important for industrial facilities, factories, stores or even hospitals which are using sensitive infrastructures. Installing dedicated ethernet cables are often too expensive and using Wireless technologies sometimes too insecure or even prohibited (due to spying, cyber-attacks, or radiation transmission free environments) or just not reliable enough. HD-PLC can be applied to such facilities not only to control. for example, commercial HVAC (Heating, Ventilation or air conditioning) systems but also security cameras, call button systems or intercoms (nurse call systems). By interconnecting or grouping these systems to have multiple control and signal lines (via existing cabling) the disconnection or line failure rate can be reduced drastically.
Besides the flexibility, long-distance tests for system & network verification, using a compact proof of concept HD-PLC LSI from Socionext, showed that a distance of over 1 km could be reached. This was obtained by using a scalable PHY rate (narrow band mode) and low noise channel selection for stable communication. Enabling the Multi-hop capability of the HD-PLC solution (of 10-hops) could result in long-distance communication in the range of 10km or more dependent on the transmission path/ cabling used.
But HD-PLC is not only a perfect fit for big networks, factories or facilities enabling longer reaches it can also be applied to any Outlet and Switch of a house or office building because it allows different applications and systems to communicate and interact with each other. Itis a simple way of using the same infrastructure. Here, for example the existing lighting could be controlled if the HD-PLC is embedded into the switches. Embedded into an outlet a HD-PLC infrastructure could be constructed to build an entire home network and any IoT node/product (security cameras, doorbells, smart speakers, intercoms, sensors, TVs or Computer/Laptopsâ€¦) could use this infrastructure throughout the house or office building providing a stable communication between inside and outside of the building connecting up to 1024 nodes. It would not be affected by shields such as walls and does not require new communication lines.
The transmission of signals and data is fully functional even in enclosed environments such as thick walled/underground structures or metal enclosed environments where wireless communications cannot be used or has serious limitations.
What are the differentiators to other/earlier solutions?
The Socionext HD-PLC is a very safe, reliable and secure solution due to usage of strong encryption (PHYs applied) and flexibility of interconnecting and grouping. It enables high-speed communication (up to 240Mbps) in a 2-28MHz frequency band with low latency (down to few milliseconds) that is based on the latest IEEE 1901-2020 international standard. Selectable longer ranges are possible using Â½ or Â¼ modes extending the reach up to 2x further than existing PLC solutions. Using narrow band multi-hop functions (including adaptation of multilevel modulation for each subcarrier and subcarrier masking with arbitrary numbers to enable compliancy to rules of different countries) can result in reaches of several kilometers and supports connecting up to 1024 terminal nodes.
It can support areas where radio waves cannot be used (are restricted) or have difficulties to penetrate or are affected by multi-path fading or other environmental effects.
Since it uses existing wiring/cabling infrastructure it is a very low-cost solution. In addition, no special technical expertise is required for installation and maintenance. It is easily applicable to IoT devices as a TCP/IP software stack is included and general interfaces such a UART/SPI are implemented.
Socionext HD-PLC solution has a smaller package size and lower power consumption than other currently available HD-PLC solutions and is a perfect fit for today’s smart society.
It can be used for B-to-B (business-to- business) communications involving Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), Factory Energy Management Systems (FEMS), Cluster/Community Energy Management Systems (CEMS), smart meters, etc., and for B-to-C (business-to-consumer) communications involving residential equipment, HVAC, household appliances, cameras, sensors, etc., and can be setup indoors, outdoors or even submerged.
Making this state-of-the-art IoT Powerline Communication with the new 4th Gen HD-PLC a key solution and enabler to the IoT in the future.