Hybrid solution. Backward Compatibility

Posted on 22 July 2020

The word “Hybrid” is present in our daily lives since a while. One of the most common domains we are used to, are cars on dual energy (fuel and electricity for example) that offers reliability and efficiency. For smart meters, which also became part of our life, “Hybrid” only appeared very recently in pursuit of the same need for a more reliable and efficient communication solution.

Obviously, the new technology has raised a lot of interest in the market, especially with the announcement of field proven results of high communication reliability G3-PLC Hybrid Solution. We are proud to say, the largest G3-PLC Hybrid based project serving as reference for high KPI has been implemented by ADD-GRUP and Matritca in Russia.  

At the same time for those electricity companies who already made a choice over PLC communication technology be it PRIME or G3-PLC and even started their roll-outs, it would be very difficult or practically impossible to stop roll-out train running at full speed.

A reasonable question appears: how to create future without losing the past. And the answer is – backward compatibility.

Yes, the meters based on Hybrid solution can be accommodated into pure PLC infrastructure and so do Data Concentrators. Backward compatibility definitely has numerous advantages and here are the most important.

Improvement of existing index of KPI.
Even though latest PLC technologies are mature enough, in many networks PLC will prove to be a harsh and non-friendly communication environment that requires constant monitoring to keep KPI level high. Due to the hybrid solution and advantages of both PLC and RF communications, the ability to achieve 100% data collection has become a reality. Through targeting specific areas and installing hybrid meters in difficult zones KPI can be moved to the next level.

Adding new smart meters in areas with completed roll-out.
There always appear new consumers or necessity for meter replacement in areas where roll-out is already over. ADD Grup Smart meters based on Hybrid Solution are developed with the interoperability aptitude in order to work with the third-party smart solutions in conditions of network area expansion.

Evasion of sources of noise.
During roll-out companies will face sources of noise in PLC. And if some of them are easy to remove (like replacing non-CE power source or light bulb), there will be other more expensive like water pump, air conditioner, engine etc. Until today only expensive filters were the solution.  Now with appearance of Hybrid meters, which are just slightly more expensive than pure PLC meters, avoidance of sources of noise has become an effortless and almost a free of cost task.

Open Standard Solution. G3-PLC and PRIME
Taking into consideration the investments made into development of infrastructure, HES/MDMS, specifications and data models electricity companies will question integration and interoperability of Hybrid Solution with pure PLC. No worries. Nothing changes but addition of a new last mile communication channel.

For instance, in G3-PLC&RF hybrid solution the lower layers are based on G3-PLC specification. The G3-PLC data link layer is adapted for hybrid network. The physical layer for PLC supports CENELEC A and FCC frequency bands. The band to be used as well as tone mask can be configured as required. The RF physical layer is in line with IEEE 802.15.4:2015 + IEEE 802.15.4v:2017 amendment and supports a large set of bands up to 1 GHz. This covers most popular license-free bands for worldwide markets: 868 MHz (Europe) and 915 MHz (Latin America). Switching between PLC and RF is decided upon link quality comparison. Fully backwards compatible with any G3-PLC network.

PRIME Alliance specifies its MultiPHY (PLC+RF) solution on the base of PRIME v1.4:

  • PLC: 8 frequency channels covering the whole FCC band. Channel 1 corresponds to CENELEC A Band.
  • RF: sub-GHz radio. Physical is in line with IEEE 802.15.4:2015 + IEEE 802.15.4v:2017 amendment. 868 MHz and 915 MHz with frequency hopping.

Electricity Distributors can be sure that they can make a decision of incorporating Hybrid Solution at any stage of their roll-outs.