The Smart Grid encompasses a range of communication technologies consisting in a network of networks. In North America, proprietary RF mesh solutions serve as the dominant technology of choice for local Smart Meter communication, with data being aggregated by an upstream concentrator and sent back to a utility via a WAN. By relying on meter-to-meter communication to form local networks, nodes need not be within the range of a concentrator, simplifying network deployment and improving network robustness.
Most RF mesh solutions utilize FSK modulation in the unlicensed ISM frequency bands such as 902-928 MHz within North America and 868-870 MHz for Europe. Data rates vary from vendor to vendor with link speeds on the order of 100 kbps, a limiting factor to implementing more advanced Smart Grid applications. Another common characteristic is while solutions are moving toward IP protocols across each segment of the network, they still predominantly incorporate proprietary technologies, preventing equipment interoperability.
To address these type issues, solution vendors are focused on standardization efforts such as IEEE 802.15.4g whose charter is to create a global standard for a PHY amendment targeting applications such as smart-grid utility networks. In addition to defining a common mandatory FSK mode, 802.15.4g currently specifies optional OFDM and MR-OQPSK modulation formats.
Industry First Advanced Transceiver Supporting Future 802.15.4g Standard
As a technology option for the ASMgrid Platform, Accent introduces the industry first transceiver specifically targeted at advanced smart meter devices. The solution conforms to the IEEE 802.15 TG4g’s standardization activities, supporting mandatory and optional specifications enabling operation up to 800 kbps with input sensitivities up to -118 dBm. The transceiver has been designed to operate in the 902-928 MHz and 868-870 MHz frequency range. The Zero IF architecture incorporates high levels of integration, reducing external part count and cost. To cope with potential strong levels of in-band and out-of-band interferers, the transceiver has been designed with strong blocking immunity and linearity enabling transmission of the most demanding packets at EVM below 4%. The software reconfigurable receiver has high dynamic range and guarantees better than 30dB SNR on wide range of input levels.
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