IPv6 – Protocol for the “internet of things”
Another reason for the importance of IPv6 is that an increasing number of standards are based on the new protocol. “With this innovation project we also wanted to make sure that we can give our customers the guarantee that their investment in our smart technology is future-proof,” says Daniel Lauk, Head of Platform and Innovation at Landis+Gyr.
Ready for testing
More and more devices, such as cell phones and gaming consoles, are being connected to the internet and therefore rapidly depleting the amount of available IPv4 addresses. “It’s not really a problem for users because, as a user, you don’t have a fixed IP address. It will become increasingly a problem for businesses, however. According to some estimates, we will run out of IPv4 addresses in the near future,” explains Jürg Haas, Product Manager Residential Communication Devices at Landis+Gyr.
In case this really happens, Landis+Gyr will be prepared with its smart metering solutions. The engineering sample devices are ready for trial deployment in the field. “We would like to test them with more of our customers, but up to now it hasn’t been easy to find customers who actually have an real IPv6 network in operation,” says Haas.
An address for every meter
This approach is showing results. The IPv6 innovation project confirms Landis+Gyr’s position at the cutting edge of technological development. The ability to give each smart meter a unique IPv6 address will directly benefit utilities and societies world-wide through improved communication and data management possibilities. In addition, it will also provide consumers with direct access to their energy consumption data in real time.
The IPv6, which will be embedded into the firmware of Landis+Gyr electricity meters, can be used over a wide variety of different physical networks including Ethernet, GPRS, Wi-Fi and fiber. In some European countries, meters are now being connected to fiber-optical networks if access to these is available.
A dual stack solution
Landis+Gyr has had IPv4 compatible Ethernet and GPRS/UMTS smart meters in its portfolio for many years, and IPv4 networks will continue to exist for some time to come. The dual stack solution of Landis+Gyr will not only be able to support the new IPv6 standard, but also provides backwards compatibility with today’s IPv4 standard. In order to ensure full future flexibility, Landis+Gyr will integrate IPv6 in such a way that it will be possible to replace the stack without high levels of investment.
Going forward, Landis+Gyr will continue testing and evaluating the IPv6 protocol stacks of different vendors, and will also implement full IPv6 end-to-end connectivity with Landis+Gyr’s Head End System. Trials with newly emerging IPv6 public mobile networks are also planned. Ultimately, Landis+Gyr will add the IPv6 protocol stack to its other smart meter types, including its new range of Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) Power Line Communication (PLC) enabled meters, as well as its RF mesh enabled meters that are deployed primarily in North America.