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Arch Rock Launches First IP and Web Standards Based Wireless Mesh Platform For Smart Grid

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Control Solutions, Inc

'PhyNet-Grid' Technology Enables Real-time Communication Using Latest Standards in Network, Security, CIM and Sub-gigahertz 802.15.4g Radio

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., June 7, 2010 - Arch Rock Corporation has introduced PhyNet-Grid, the first advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and grid communication platform based entirely on industry-standard IP networking, security and data-collection protocols. Because it implements open standards at all layers, PhyNet-Grid lets OEMs craft fully interoperable wireless meshed IPv6-based smart-meter solutions that will offer their utility customers investment protection and multi-vendor compatibility for years to come.

PhyNet-Grid technology provides an all-standard, two-way communication path from millions of widely dispersed meters or other "Smart Grid" devices to centralized utility applications or Meter Data Management Systems (MDMS).  Thanks to standard interfaces, PhyNet-Grid can work with any vendor's meters and distribution network devices. It is the first platform to offer real-time (rather than just next-day, batch-mode) meter data collection, plus the ability to continue working during a power outage by switching to low-power operation and avoiding an hours-long rebuild of the mesh network.

PhyNet-Grid is designed for licensing to AMI and home-area network (HAN) vendors who want to move their partly or fully proprietary product lines to standards-based, and for makers of meters and other grid components wishing to offer comprehensive AMI solutions. Vendors who start integrating the technology into their products today can expect to have pilot deployments with their utility customers by late 2010.

New Standards Will Be "the Staples of Smart Grid RFPs from Utilities"

"Up to now two types of AMI networks have been available to utilities," said Roland Acra, Arch Rock CEO. "One type was closed, proprietary RF mesh or power line communication-based systems; the other type was IP-based but cost-prohibitive because it used public wireless networks that required putting a cell phone in every meter or building an even costlier new, dedicated WiMAX infrastructure. PhyNet-Grid combines the new and established work of industry standards bodies in radios, Internet protocols, web services and powerful security mechanisms with the cost-effectiveness of Arch Rock's advanced real-time RF mesh network."

"The push by the federal government's NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology] and the big utilities for the use of Internet standards in the Smart Grid has put vendors on notice that the days of proprietary solutions are numbered," Acra added. "The standards we're implementing in PhyNet-Grid today will be the staples of the Smart Grid RFPs coming from utilities from now on. From the beginning Arch Rock has not only been a strong proponent of the embedded IP and web standards that are now playing a major role in Smart Grid infrastructure, but has been a key contributor to the development of several of those standards, including IEEE 802.15.4e and the IETF's 6LoWPAN, ROLL and CoRE."

Control Solutions, Inc Key PhyNet-Grid Features: Scalability, Security, Always-on

Key features of PhyNet-Grid include:
*unlimited scalability and high availability through multi-router, distributed and adaptive IPv6 routing that supports millions of nodes;
*always-on, two-way interaction with meters, allowing options for data collection in either real-time or scheduled/batch mode;
*resilience and robustness through distributed mesh routing algorithms (IETF ROLL), combined with distributed frequency-hopping (FHSS) algorithms that scale well by not depending on exact network-wide clock synchronization over 802.15.4g radios;
*seamless switching between high and low (battery-based) power, enabling systems to keep operating during power outages via a "low energy vigilance" mechanism created by Arch Rock and now part of 802.15.4e, virtually eliminating network rebuild times;
*powerful public key infrastructure (PKI)-based security services at multiple layers using the latest open standards in cryptographic algorithms and protocols - the same proven standards used across the Internet. This protects against outsider attacks across the RF mesh by requiring each device to use EAP in establishing an AES-128 link-layer key, and against insider attacks by using TLS and/or DTLS to establish secure end-to-end sessions between meters and the head-end system;
*embedded web services, delivering data over IEC CIM (Common Information Model) via embedded HTTP and W3C EXI (Efficient XML Interchange).

Hardware and Software Components of PhyNet-Grid

Arch Rock's PhyNet-Grid platform delivers complete connectivity, powerful security and data and network management capabilities at utility scale using a resilient three-tier architecture. At the first tier, communication modules with PhyNet-Grid protocol stacks are embedded in meters or grid devices. At the second tier, an RF mesh connects the meters to wide-area edge router hardware with PhyNet-Grid software. At the third, head-end appliances host PhyNet-Grid software including interfaces to leading MDMS systems, certificate management for authentication and encryption, and addressing, naming and policy services.

Vendors can use the PhyNet-Grid technology in the hardware/software combination most appropriate to their products. For example, an AMI vendor may do a software-only license, embedding the Arch Rock software in its meters, IP routers and head-end equipment. Alternatively, Arch Rock can deliver its software on its own head-end (server) and router appliances, and supply a communication module to be embedded into the vendor's meters or other customer-premise equipment such as HAN devices.

The New Industry Standards and Their Significance

The industry standards (in either standard or pre-standard form) and their corresponding network layers as implemented in Arch Rock PhyNet-Grid are:

Application layer: CIM (IEC)
Presentation layer: XML, EXI (W3C)
Messaging layer: CoRE, HTTP (IETF)
Secure Transport layer: TCP with TLS; UDP with DTLS (IETF)
Network layer: IPv6, RoLL (IETF)
Adaptation layer: 6LoWPAN (IETF)
Media access control (MAC) layer: 802.15.4e (IEEE)
Physical layer: 802.15.4g (IEEE)

A number of the standards incorporated into PhyNet-Grid, released in recent months by their respective standards bodies, bring unprecedented advantages to AMI users.

New IEEE 802.15.4e/g radio chips will be produced in large volumes by established semiconductor vendors and made widely available, unlike the dedicated chips made in-house by vendors of proprietary systems.

802.15.4e, in particular, allows low-power operation, enabling utilities to avoid operational loss during power outages, when remote access and visibility are essential.

The IETF's 6LoWPAN, ROLL, CoRE and the W3C's EXI provide the benefit of open IP and web networking while remaining resource-efficient in the context of cost-effective wireless mesh networks.

CIM and HTTP allow interfacing with MDMS and other utility applications using open enterprise web standards and data formats.

TLS/DTLS and open public key cryptography and certificate management provide strong security mechanisms that are open, well documented and widely tested.

PhyNet-Grid Availability
PhyNet-Grid demonstration systems are available immediately, and vendors can begin today to integrate the PhyNet-Grid technology into their devices and systems under individual license arrangements with Arch Rock.

About Arch Rock Corporation
Arch Rock is a pioneer in IP-based wireless sensor network (WSN) technology, focusing on energy and environmental monitoring and Smart Grid applications. The company's PhyNet(tm) architecture is the foundation for turning wireless sensing or metering points into IP- and web-enabled devices that can communicate data locally or globally, enabling ubiquitous, non-disruptive and cost-effective instrumentation. Arch Rock's Energy Optimizer is an end-user solution allowing enterprises to better monitor, analyze and optimize their use of energy resources while maintaining safe, reliable and comfortable environmental conditions in their buildings, campuses and data centers. The PhyNet-Grid technology is an OEM platform for creating utility-scale IP standards-based wireless mesh products for advanced metering (AMI) applications. Arch Rock is a co-founder of the IPSO (IP for Smart Objects) Alliance. For more information, visit http://www.archrock.com.

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