PLC-based Networks for the Smart Grid is the Source of the Noise Pollution radiating on the powerlines.

Doing It Right – Recommendations for RPL in PLC-based Networks for the Smart Grid

Tanguy Ropitault, Alejandro Lampropulos, Ramanuja Vedantham,  Alexander Pelov and Laurent Toutain,

Philippe Chiummiento from Itron



Ever since man has tamed electricity, the means for producing

and distributing it have been in gradual evolution. The

biggest change to the power grid in the past several decades are

the recent efforts to deploy Internet technologies throughout

the grid – a major enabler for its evolution to a “Smart

Grid”. Nowadays, more than ever, the grid has to meet new

challenges and constraints, such as the efficient management of

production and distribution of power, integration of renewable

energy sources, electrical vehicles, and so forth. This can only

be achieved by having real-time, accurate knowledge of the

actual energy consumption all along the grid and being able

to communicate bidirectionally with all elements connected to

the grid – the essence of the Smart Grid.

The system which englobes the Smart Meters, the networks

necessary to communicate with them, and the backend management

system is called Advanced Metering Infrastructure

(AMI). It is a key enabler of the Smart Grid. AMI relies on

efficient and robust Neighborhood Area Network (NAN) to

carry information between power meters and data concentrators

(DC). DC are the element which connects the NAN to the

WAN, and can vary in complexity – from a simple repeater

to a full-featured application-level gateway (Fig.1).

NAN can be formed with long-range point-to-point links or

short range multi-hop networks. One of the leading approaches

for wired NAN is communicating over a Power Line Carrier

(PLC). Utilities and power meter industries have selected

the narrowband (< 500 kHz) PLC technology with several

emerging standards for physical and data link layers, such as

the ITU-T 9903 and IEEE P1901.2 [1].

Narrowband PLC, being a harsh environment for data networks

(noisy, limited throughput, . . . ), bears strong similarity

to Low-power and Lossy Networks (LLNs). IETF RPL [2],

a proactive routing protocol, has been designed specifically

for LLNs. To evaluate RPL in narrowband PLC architecture,

we developed an IEEE P1901.2 module in OPNET simulator.

In [3], we demonstrated that the simulation model is realistic

by validating it against a real-world testbed.