7 Points to understanding G3-Hybrid Mesh Networks

7 Points to understanding G3-Hybrid Mesh Networks
Image Credit: G3-Alliance

Hybrid mesh networks are a key technology in powering our modern, connected world. They provide the backbone that smart grids and Internet of Things (IoT) systems need to fulfil expectations.

The G3-Hybrid mesh network is an advanced technology in this field, offering a wealth of unique benefits. To make it easier to understand, let’s break it down into 7 points.

1. The Basics of G3-Hybrid Mesh Networks

A G3-Hybrid mesh network is like a large, interconnected family of both wired and wireless devices. They cooperate to cover a vast area without requiring a dedicated and complex infrastructure setup. This ‘smart’ network is the backbone of advanced systems like smart grids and IoT applications. The biggest advantage of this network is that each device – or node – can benefit from the best that both Power Line Communication (PLC) and Radio Frequency (RF) can offer for communication at any place and time. The resulting flexibility ensures maximum coverage, minimises dead zones, and reduces the cost and complexity associated with network setup and maintenance.

2. Key Components of a G3-Hybrid Mesh Network

A G3-Hybrid mesh network primarily consists of three types of devices:

Credit: G3-Alliance

Gateways – These are the crucial connecting points, serving as interfaces between the hybrid mesh network and the outside world. They connect the mesh network to other systems, such as Head-end Systems or central management systems. Gateways are also known as Border Routers or in G3 terminology it is the PAN Co-ordinator.

Mesh Devices – These devices form the backbone of the network. They route and forward data to and from other nodes, ensuring smooth and efficient data flow across the network.

Leaf Devices – These devices are part of the network but do not contribute to the mesh structure. They only communicate via the network and can rely autonomously on battery-limited energy resources.

3. The Self-healing Nature of the Network

A G3-Hybrid mesh network is self-healing: it has the capability to automatically adjust and repair its structure when the environment or network conditions change. For instance, if adverse weather conditions or a physical obstruction interrupts a connection between two nodes, the network seamlessly switches between RF and PLC technologies to ensure uninterrupted data flow.

Credit: G3-Alliance

4. Understanding IPv6 and 6LoWPAN

IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is the latest version of the Internet Protocol, which is a set of rules governing how data is sent and received over the Internet. It’s designed to handle a vast array of internet addresses – 3.4×10^38 to be exact. This means it’s well-prepared for our increasingly connected world.

An adaptation of IPv6, known as 6LoWPAN, enables the efficient transmission of IPv6 over low-bandwidth networks, significantly reducing IPv6 overhead. These benefits extend to smaller, more constrained networks, such as those used in wireless mesh networks. This is where the G3-Hybrid network comes in. It harnesses this technology to facilitate smooth, extensive communication and is versatile enough to be tailored to specific applications, whether that’s smart grid, IoT or other dedicated uses.

5. Battery Power in Hybrid Mesh Networks

As mentioned for the leaf devices, hybrid mesh networks can run on battery power. The G3-Alliance developed a battery-powered leaf node specification to allow fully connected devices in a G3-Hybrid mesh network to run on a single battery for an extended period of time – for years or even decades.

6. Standardisation in Hybrid Mesh Networks

A G3-Hybrid mesh network adheres to open standards, specifically the ITU-T G.9903 G3-PLC protocol and the IEEE 802.15.4-2020 standard. This allows seamless integration and operation among devices from different vendors. The hybrid network automatically and dynamically adjusts its communication channel selection for each link in the network, depending on the prevailing network conditions. This flexibility enhances the reliability, efficiency and resilience of the network.

7. Importance of Certification

With the increasing complexity of technology, having a certification program is paramount to ensuring product interoperability and meeting performance requirements. This is where the G3-Alliance plays a vital role. Comprising nearly 100 member stakeholders from the smart grid ecosystem, the G3-Alliance is dedicated to driving the development of G3 technologies, with already over 80 million devices deployed worldwide.

The G3-Alliance runs a thorough certification program that provides assurance to both manufacturers and end users. This certification ensures that meters, data concentrators, and other devices correctly implemented the G3-Hybrid standard, that they are interoperable with other certified devices, and that they meet the required performance levels. Currently, the program has certified over 500 G3-devices from 19 different manufacturers with certified chipsets and 50 different manufacturers with certified products. This assurance of quality and performance underscores the commitment of the G3-Alliance to delivering reliable and efficient solutions for the smart grid and IoT applications.

G3-Hybrid Mesh Networks are ready for any of your applications

A G3-Hybrid mesh network congregates a virtually unlimited number of devices and enables reliable communication among them. It’s a robust, flexible, and scalable solution, serving as a vital backbone of smart grids and IoT applications. With dynamic self-healing capabilities and reliance on open standards, it’s a segway toward an even more connected future.

We’re thrilled to announce that the G3-Hybrid specification has been updated with several enhancements: Frequency hopping for more flexible and efficient use of a given radio spectrum, last gasp function which allows a device to send out a final message in case of a power outage, enhanced RF/PLC media switching, further optimizing the communication capabilities, incorporation of new RF bands, such as 915 and 920 MHz, broadening the reach and effectiveness of the G3-Hybrid mesh network and supporting battery-powered devices.

It is now published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), making it freely available to the public via the ITU website https://www.itu.int/rec/T-REC-G.9903

For more information, contact our members or visit our website.