Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Trilliant unveils smart grid and smart city communications platform

Steve Rogerson
February 16, 2016
Trilliant unveiled an updated multi-technology and multi-purpose smart communications platform at last week’s DistribuTech annual smart grid conference and exhibition in Florida. The platform aims to help utilities and cities deliver smart grid and smart city benefits.
Having worked with leading utilities and cities globally who collectively serve more than 100 million customers, California-based Trilliant says it understands that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to infrastructure modernisation. Each utility and city has different priorities, opportunities, challenges and regulatory environments.
Some may want to start with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) to improve operational efficiency and consumer engagement, while others want to start with distribution automation (DA) to enhance reliability. Still others, especially in developing countries, may want to start by better addressing non-technical losses and achieve revenue protection first.
Utilities may also approach deployments differently: some may prefer mass deployments while others want to start with targeted deployments. No matter what the priorities and approaches are, many understand that it is important to put in the right smart communications platform from the beginning, while at the same time putting in the right foundation to enable other applications as needs evolve in the future.
The Trilliant platform was developed with this in mind. It is said to be the only multi-technology, multi-purpose smart communications platform that has been proven to address utilities’ needs today while giving them the options and flexibility for tomorrow.
For those utilities who want to focus on distribution automation first, Trilliant offers the high-bandwidth, low-latency, private 5.8GHz WAN and FAN mesh network suitable for advanced DA applications. For those who want mass AMI deployments, there is the private 2.4GHz NAN mesh network. For those operating in a highly-deregulated environments and prefer a public network, the company also offers a public cellular-based AMI network.
To provide utilities with more options and flexibility, the company recently added RPMA technology to its platform, best suited for targeted deployments or hard-to-reach areas.
One of the hallmarks of the platform is its flexibility, enabling utilities and cities to choose any best-of-breed application and device vendors from an ecosystem of partners. The platform uses the CIM common information model on the application and analytics side to enable AMI, DA, smart cities and analytics partners to interface seamlessly. On the device side, the platform uses common communications modules to allow the seamless integration with any network device, be it DA devices, electric meters, water meters, gas meters, smart street lights or other smart devices in the future. It leverages open standards to give utilities and cities more options and flexibility to choose best-of-breed application, analytics and network device that best fit their needs.
The  5.8GHz WAN and FAN provides utilities with a 54MBps backbone network capable of supporting AMI, DA and other smart applications. This high bandwidth comes with the 7ms latency required for advanced DA applications. The company’s NAN platform operates in the globally-available 2.4GHz spectrum and has peak data rates of 800kbps and 80MHz of optimised use of the available bandwidth. The platform also offers cellular and RPMA networks for those utilities who look for targeted deployments or hard-to-reach areas.
The platform uses industry-standard protocols at the link, network and application layers to create an environment that secures individual devices, groups of devices and separate application domains operating on a single network. It uses industry-standard PKI public key infrastructure and virtual private network (VPN) methods to deliver proven security.
It is architected to support any smart grid (AMI, DA and DSM), smart city and IoT application, today and tomorrow. Every node on the network is capable of edge intelligence with the computing power and memory to support customised applications across the network. Partitioning of application domains allows multiple applications to be supported, each with its own independent security and quality of service requirements. The scalability ensures performance and reliability with millions of devices on the network.
“To help utilities and cities modernise their infrastructure and deliver benefits to their operations and customers is our goal,” said Ryan Gerbrandt, Trilliant’s senior vice president. “Trilliant’s deep heritage serving the utility industry enables us to provide solutions that are purpose-built to address utilities’ unique needs. The Trilliant smart communications platform helps utilities future-proof their grid communications system so they are able to effectively manage their priorities today while prepare for the opportunities of tomorrow.”