As consumers begin to focus more on renewable and clean energy, the smart technology industry is now turning its attention to developing the power grid.
HomeGrid Forum is an industry alliance which was formed to support the development and deployment of a unified and standardised technology called G.hn (Gigabit Home Networking), that can use existing wiring such as coaxial, phoneline, powerline and plastic optical fibre to provide multi-gigabit internet services, connecting smart homes, enabling smart buildings and proactively designing the smart cities of the future.
Based on standards developed by the International Telecommunications Union-Telecom (ITU-T), HomeGrid Forum’s members and work groups continue the expansion of G.hn technology through a concerted effort to encourage its widespread adoption and to realise new applications for it. The forum also aims to provide a clear migration path for legacy technologies – ensuring coexistence and ability to work over a variety of mediums, allowing internet service providers and energy service providers to capitalise on their existing network infrastructure, while increasing service robustness, network coverage and connectivity throughput in the home.
Another key goal is to uphold and maintain compliance and interoperability through its certification programme to ensure a complete ecosystem of silicon and interoperable systems. Through its plugfests and rigorous compliance and interoperability testing, HomeGrid Forum’s certification ensures that the technology can be successfully mass deployed.
Supporting deployment of G.hn technology
Since announcing the initiative of its merger with the GiGAWire Alliance last year, HomeGrid Forum continues to support the deployment of G.hn technology across a multitude of industries, ranging from Home Networking to IoT, Li-Fi communications, Connected Cars, GiGAWire MDU, Industrial and smart grid, providing a robust and versatile backbone designed to fit any network topology.
“Within the smart grid sector, utility companies are facing ever-growing pressure to meet the increasing demands for renewable energy, in line with global targets,” Livia Rosu, HomeGrid Forum marketing work group chair and board member, explains. “Based on the strong backbone that G.hn technology provides, utility companies worldwide are supported in the rollout of next-generation services including smart meters that provide accurate, real-time usage information, energy price updates and participate in demand-response programmes between the utility company’s central office and the residence.
“Not only does G.hn provide resilience and connectivity to these devices, it also offers high levels of security to the appliances being used to prevent the theft of energy or personal data.
“HomeGrid Forum has been instrumental in setting up strategic partnerships with leading vendors of smart grids to install a two-way broadband connectivity channel that can be utilised for smart meters and other smart grid applications. The alliance continues to work on new innovations for G.hn technology for a variety of applications within the utility market and it is set to play a crucial role in the future of street lighting and smart cities worldwide.”
What is Gigabit Home Networking technology?
G.hn is the ITU-T standard based technology that utilises existing wires within the home to establish a high-performance and robust internet connection. It can be operated through telephone wiring, powerlines, optical fibre, and coaxial cables and allows for reliable, seamless coverage throughout the home or building.
“Often when a wireless connection is not meeting the needs of the household or building, the secret is to rollout a single physical-layer networking technology over existing legacy wires to transport the necessary high-bandwidth multimedia streams,” Rosu adds. “The hybrid combination of G.hn wired system with Wi-Fi extender capabilities can provide the most secure and flexible connectivity solution for any house topology.
“As high bandwidth connectivity is critical to facilitate a whole new suite of applications and services inside the home and outside the home, G.hn technology has proven itself as the most robust and versatile multi-medium backbone, enabling maximum capability for a complete range of markets and network topologies.
Working for the smart grid
Rosu explains that G.hn has already been recognised by the smart grid industry as the most robust and future-proof technology and this would not have been possible without the knowledge and expertise of the HomeGrid Forum members supporting the continuous development and deployment of G.hn based systems. For example, global energy service provider E.ON recently joined the HomeGrid Forum as a promoter member to support the deployment of G.hn-based infrastructure as a game-changing technology for the future of smart cities and smart grids.
“There are many system vendor members working on providing solutions for smart grid and industrial applications,” she continues. “At the recent IEEE ISPLC virtual conference this May, Devolo presented ITU-T G.hn-based connectivity for smart grid scenarios in Germany, where smart meter gateways are used as central communication gateways for local devices such as smart meters.
“Another member, UVAX, has developed a smart city solution using G.hn technology to communicate with all streetlights in an outdoor lighting network of a city, which allows the aggregation of thousands of sensors and IP devices in a single TCP/IP network managed and control remotely. More than 150 cities have installed the UVAX solution integrating video surveillance systems, sensor networks, Wi-Fi access points and even electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and all communicating by means of G.hn implemented in the power lines of LED streetlight network.
“Furthermore, another member Teleconnect has presented its G.hn PLC-coupling module with MIMO operation for maximum performance and single wire-range power supply, designed for specific industrial applications.”
Transforming the utility sector
As the demand for smarter cities and smarter energy continues to grow worldwide, HomeGrid Forum, alongside its member companies, will promote the development and deployment of G.hn in these growing areas.
Transforming the utility sector, service providers are considering energy usage and distribution in integration with analytics, artificial intelligence and field sensors – leveraging the benefits of technological advancements to enhance security, optimise and control the assets and offer strong grid control and transparent monitoring. “By utilising G.hn alongside smart grid-optimised software, energy providers can benefit from a standardised silicon platform that is shipping millions of chips yearly with cybersecurity requirements set by the smart grid sector,” Rosu says. “The capabilities of G.hn will drive utility service providers to ensure their networks are able to meet the business and regulatory challenges expected over the coming years, while enabling load management, distributed energy generation and storage, electrical vehicle charging and other IoT applications. If utility service providers want to meet the ever-rising demands of the future, they need to ensure that they have a future-proof backbone capable of supporting it.”
Over the coming years we will witness a huge global push towards the use of renewable energy and electric vehicles, presenting new challenges within the power sector. Utility companies are already under increasing pressure to provide higher amounts of clean electricity, while drastically reducing CO2 emissions and feeding a growing appetite for power due to the rising demands for electric vehicles, and this is only set to continue as demands soar.
“HomeGrid Forum members are looking at the smart grid evolution and its specific use cases, such as broadband powerline metering and narrowband-broadband hybrid networks empowering data concentrators on low voltage installations, as well as smart meter gateways and medium voltage backbone usage optimisation,” Rosu explains.
Connecting legacy devices on the grid
According to Rosu, with the widespread use of IoT technology for smart sensors, communications and control in the utility, industrial, security and automotive markets – there is a huge demand for G.hn technology which enables legacy devices to be connected at Gigabit speeds without the need for new cabling or compromising on security or reliability. “G.hn plays a pivotal role in the utility sector’s hybrid network design with its unparalleled interoperability between applications, devices, and systems, she adds. “G.hn technology provides a great solution for utility companies wanting to make use of broadband connectivity for smart grid applications, while guaranteeing multi-vendor openness, integration and interoperability for a wide range of smart meter and smart grid infrastructure products.
“With state-of-the-art threat mitigation techniques, G.hn technology ensures network content and control remains safe and secure regardless of neighbouring or internal threats such as the hacking of a smart meter. It also incorporates a set of advanced utility features including broadband data rates to enable real-time meter control, support for low voltage and medium voltage topologies, self-organising network mesh capabilities and AES-128 wire speed encryption. G.hn offers utility service providers a backbone that pushes the boundaries of broadband technology to improve robustness to interference, expand coverage distance and reduce power consumption.
“G.hn technology allows for a cost-effective smart home grid which can intelligently control energy use within the home through any connected device and help to monitor and manage energy usage for every device in the home. It is this interoperability between devices, applications and systems that makes it a perfect solution for the energy sector in providing secure two-way communication, real-time data and the push for reliable backhaul.”
A NEW FORCE
When the GiGAWire Alliance and the Home Grid Forum merged late last year it created a new force in broadband access technology development and an organisation that will be structured to work across a widening portfolio covering IoT, connected cars, smart grid, light communications (Li-Fi) and GiGAWire MDU.
“Both organisations have a lot in common and a strong focus on enabling service providers’ deployments with advanced solutions and ensuring a robust and versatile backbone, based on ITU-T G.hn technology – designed to work on any wire, designed to fit any network topology” Rosu explains.
“From the HomeGrid Forum side we will provide continued support to GiGAWire members on system certification through strict compliance and interoperability testing for service providers’ smoother and faster deployment. As G.hn technology is at the core of systems for in-home and broadband access deployments (in MDUs and last mile network segments), the new organisation automatically ensures end-to-end coexistence and interoperability at all levels.”
The GiGAWire Alliance was created in 2017 as a unified industry effort by service providers, equipment vendors and silicon vendors to create an ecosystem that ensured continuous improvement of broadband access network solutions based on ITU-T G.hn standards. Its work has been dedicated to enabling next-generation access networks that deliver faster-than-gigabit broadband services, with a focus on helping service providers to leverage existing in-building copper infrastructure (phone lines, UTP cables and coaxial cables) to deploy broadband networks at a fraction of the cost of traditional FTTH deployments.
GiGAWire extended applicability of G.hn to provide broadband access to the premises environment, including large apartment complexes, single family units and office buildings. It provided crosstalk mitigation and auto pairing features to support multiple users using bundle cable.
“The GiGAWire solution can easily improve Internet connection speed up to ten times over VDSL in the premises environment where optical fibre cannot be deployed for technical or historical preservation reasons,” Rosu concludes. “Adding GiGAWire’s experience and access deployment knowledge to the work of the HomeGrid Forum will give the combined organisation massive potential as the industry moves forward.”