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Neighborhood Area Networks

By Phill Feltham

Standardizing communication to achieve plug-and-play interoperability

BY RYAN MALEY, ZigBee Alliance

All over the world, there is increasing demand for standardizing communication in the Smart Grid. Electric utilities and their regulators are increasingly concerned with upgrading all aspects of the Smart Grid. Utilities are taking actions to improve reliability and efficiency by upgrading infrastructure and adding communication throughout the entire grid. One particular area of focus is the so-called “utility last mile”, the neighborhood area network (NAN). NANs allow Smart Grid infrastructure to connect smart meters and distribution automation equipment to wide area network gateways. There are several specific uses for NAN communication.

SMART METERS One of the main uses of the neighborhood area network is to communicate with smart meters. Often, utilities use meters from a single vendor in order to simplify communication from the utility to the meter. However, by standardizing communication using open, global protocols, meters from different vendors can be interoperable. This interoperability will lower selection and deployment risk to utilities. Utilities can seamlessly integrate meters from different vendors and ensure that all of these devices will work with data aggregation points and other devices.

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