Wi-SUN launches FAN Certification Program for large-scale, outdoor IoT networks

Colton Ching of Hawaiian Electric

The Wi-SUN Alliance, a global ecosystem of member companies seeking to accelerate the implementation of open standards-based Field Area Networks (FAN) and the Internet of Things (IoT), has announced its FAN Certification Program.

FAN is a communications infrastructure for very large-scale networks. In the same way you use the Internet on a smartphone or computer, a Field Area Network lets devices interconnect onto one common network.

The availability of the FAN Certification Program is the result of the vision, collaboration and dedication of a number of Wi-SUN Member companies. Through the certification program, the Wi-SUN Alliance certifies products based on their compliance to a communications profile derived from applicable open standards and their ability to interoperate with other Wi-SUN certified products.

The FAN Certification Program will certify devices for use by utilities, city developers and other service providers to simplify and support large-scale, outdoor networks for smart cities, smart utilities and other IoT rollouts – and to help reduce costs and delays. Wi-SUN members plan to announce certified products in Q4 2018.

Proprietary systems are no longer sufficiently flexible, or as cost-effective as solutions based on open standards, and will become less relevant within a few years. Adhering to the Wi-SUN FAN profile based on open IEEE and IETF standards enables service providers, smart cities and utilities to deploy adaptable multi-service networks and will help ensure interoperability, not only today, but also for many years to come.

“Wi-SUN continues to be at the forefront of IoT innovation, and as cities, utilities and the industry grows their IoT networks, they are increasingly recognising that industry-wide open standards are essential for interoperability and scalability,” says Phil Beecher, president and CEO of the Wi-SUN Alliance.

“FAN Certification is an endorsement for governments and the industry that our members’ products are compliant to these open standards, and safeguards quality, interoperability, security, scalability – and ultimately gives customers a competitive advantage.”

Key benefits of FAN Certification include:

  • Offers utilities, cities and service providers adaptable multi-service networks that will help ensure interoperability today and for future generations. 
  • Reduces the time needed to evaluate new products, as behavior, performance and interoperability are well defined.
  • Eliminates single-vendor lock-in.
  • Encourages the development of a global ecosystem of standards-based products, reducing the risk and costly impact of stranded assets. All Wi-SUN certified products are rigorously tested by a certified Wi-SUN appointed third-party test lab to ensure the devices work together effortlessly and securely for rapid time to market. Certified devices include a digital certificate to authenticate entry to a Wi-SUN FAN network, significantly reducing vulnerability to cyber security threats. Under a separate agreement, Wi-SUN has selected GlobalSign to provide Certificate Authority (CA) services to Wi-SUN Alliance member companies.

Alex Davies, senior analyst, Rethink Technology Research and editor of RIOT says: “Open standards are one of the surest ways to ensure mass adoption of a technology. As with Wi-Fi and the 3GPP cellular protocols, Wi-SUN’s FAN is delivering multiple choices for equipment and technology suppliers to facilitate customer interest.”

“Energy suppliers and grid operators are concerned about vendor lock-in, particularly due to the long life cycles of their deployments. To this end, Wi-SUN should provide an answer to their mission-critical problems that other LPWAN options cannot. It opens the door for them to expand into other IoT markets, with smart cities a major opportunity.”

According to Iker Urrutia, manager, smart grids, Avangrid says “IoT networking solutions based on open standards and certified to the Wi-SUN FAN profile will be critical in obtaining true interoperability for utility applications, such as AMI,accelerating the digitisation of the grid in a cost effective way.”

Colton Ching, SVP of planning & technology at Hawaiian Electric adds “We continue to see Wi-SUN technology as a major enabler for large-scale IoT applications throughout Hawaii with the availability of its FAN Certification Program. The Wi-SUN Alliance and its members have taken a major step forward in bringing multi-vendor, interoperable solutions to fruition.”

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