Wi-Fi Alliance strikes deal to help develop smart grid apps

The Wi-Fi Alliance has teamed up with the HomePlug Powerline Alliance, which promotes smart grid technologies, to develop a set of joint standards.

While products are likely to be some way off, a standard would allow Wifi devices to link to home powerline networks, allowing home PCs and other Wifi devices to be networked using the power cables in the walls.

While the data transfer rate is currently just 85Mbps, a new specification, HomePlug AV2 broadband, is due for completion in the first quarter of next year and should allow speeds of up to 600Mbps.

“Both Wifi and HomePlug solutions will play key roles in energy management and connecting home systems and appliances to the smart grid,” said Rob Ranck, president of the HomePlug Powerline Alliance. 

“HomePlug and Wifi devices represent a large share of installed nodes worldwide, and ensuring seamless interoperability is critical for broad scale smart grid deployment.”

The Wi-Fi Alliance says it has 8,000 products certified, while HomePlug has an installed base of over 60 million devices.

“Working with the HomePlug Powerline Alliance will facilitate interoperability between Wifi equipment and devices connected to powerline home networks,” said Edgar Figueroa, chief executive officer of the Wi-Fi Alliance. 

Both organizations are already members of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP), whose Smart Energy 2 Applications Profile (SEP 2.0) was picked last year by the US Department of Energy and NIST as an initial interoperable standard for smart energy management with home area network devices. 

The Wi-Fi Alliance and the HomePlug Powerline Alliance are now working together to enable SEP 2.0 applications to operate across a mix of wireless and wired networks.