Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

ABB broadband mesh router gives utilities communications options

Steve Rogerson
June 17, 2015
Swiss company ABB introduced an outdoor broadband mesh router, designed to meet the communications networking requirements of utilities in Europe, at this week’s Cired conference in Lyon, France.
The Tropos 6420 is claimed to provide European utilities with a reliable, cost-effective alternative to service provider networks to deliver wireless communications for smart grid applications such as smart metering backhaul and distribution automation.
The radio design coupled with the mesh routing and radio resource management capabilities of the embedded operating system let the device be deployed at lower density than previous mesh routers, cutting equipment and installation costs, while offering higher availability than service provider networks.
“The Tropos 6420 brings to European utilities the benefits of a modern wireless communications system,” said Claudio Facchin, president of ABB’s power systems division. “It enables deployment of private wireless networks that are both highly available and cost-effective.”
The most commonly used communications technologies for smart grid applications are powerline communications (PLC), a private, wired communications technology, and public wireless data services provided by cellular network operators. The Tropos 6420 provides European utilities with a different option.
With access to 653MHz of radio frequency spectrum, the radio resource management embedded in the mesh operating system uses more available channels, automatically selecting the best frequency to avoid interference and increase network availability. These capabilities, combined with its mesh routing capabilities and environmentally hardened packaging, enable networks to be designed to a high level of system availability.
It can access 125MHz of spectrum in the 5GHz band where transmission at 36dBm is permissible making it suitable for the European market. Transmitting at full power enables the mesh routers to be deployed at lower density, cutting equipment and installation costs.
The device is available with an optional strand mounting kit, further reducing installation costs in areas where streetlights are suspended from power lines rather than being mounted on poles. As with all Tropos mesh routers, the product can be managed using Tropos Control wireless network management system.