Exclusive: Wi-SUN Alliance continues to adapt and improve
Wi-SUN Alliance is a global member industry organisation that promotes standards-based interoperable wireless communications products for smart utility networks, smart cities and other IoT/IIoT applications.
To learn more about Wi-SUN Alliance and what the organisation does, TechDay spoke with Phil Beecher, Wi-SUN Alliance’s CEO and President.
Who is Wi-SUN Alliance?
Founded in 2012, Wi-SUN’s goal was to drive the adoption of wireless solutions in markets serving the Internet of Things (IoT).
As a global alliance, Wi-SUN operates in 46 countries, with a particularly strong presence in the United States, Japan, India and Latin America, with a growing presence in Europe, China, and South-East Asia.
Boasting over 300 members, Wi-SUN’s partners are diverse, including some of the worlds leading silicon vendors, device manufacturers, services providers, utilities, universities, municipalities and local government organisations.
“Since our formation in 2012, Wi-SUN Alliance has seen continued growth in membership and adoption of Wi-SUN technology as end users globally recognise the benefits of deploying proven technology solutions for their large-scale IoT and IIoT networks,” says Phil Beecher, CEO and President of Wi-SUN Alliance.
What is Wi-SUN Alliance best known for?
Wi-SUN implements a rigorous testing and certification program for Field Area Networks (FAN) compliant products. The program defines a communications infrastructure for large-scale outdoor networks. It certifies devices for use by utilities, cities, and services providers to simplify smart cities, smart utilities and other large-scale IoT rollouts.
Through the program, the Alliance certifies products based on their compliance with a communications profile based on open standards and their ability to interoperate with other Wi-SUN FAN-certified products, in which more than 80 products from 30 vendors have been FAN certified.
Wi-SUN FAN technology also enables the use of AI by adopting companies if they wish to do so. This is in line with Wi-SUN’s commitment to promoting open standards-based, interoperable, large-scale IoT solutions globally.
The organisation is also launching the next phase of its specification program with Wi-SUN FAN 1.1. Wi-SUN is confident that the demand for interoperable products will continue to grow as more IoT applications and services are rolled out across global markets.
Wi-SUN FAN 1.1 will deliver higher data rates with lower latency and support for battery-powered devices for applications like gas and water metering, and environmental sensing. This next evolution of the program will help extend the range of applications suited to Wi-SUN products, including the integration of smart metering with renewables where network stability and grid control are critical.
“Wi-SUN technology is mature and field proven at scale. Wi-SUN Alliance focuses on delivering cost effective, interoperable, secure, standards-based communications technology that provides the performance, scalability and energy efficiency required for utility and smart city networks with low customer risk,” adds Beecher.
Who are Wi-SUN Alliances customers?
As an industry alliance, Wi-SUN has many areas of industry focus, specifically in the utilities and energy sector, where it focuses on advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and distribution automation (DA) applications.
Wi-SUN’s other focus is smart cities, which can leverage Wi-SUN FAN-based wireless communications infrastructure, such as street lighting networks, to enable other applications, including environmental monitoring, public transit signs, parking, electric vehicle charging, and more. Other applications include smart agriculture, smart water applications and smart buildings.
Designing and developing smart city and smart utility applications can be challenging. Projects need a strong business case with clear financial benefits and operational efficiencies.
Wi-SUN’s role is to help city developers, utilities and services providers make this business case by delivering the underlying network technology that enables secure wireless connectivity for a broad range of applications. Streetlighting is a good example, where smart lighting can act as the network canopy for additional applications such as smart parking, traffic flow management and signage.
In a smart city context, market trends are often driven by financial benefits in energy and maintenance. But city departments also need to provide improved safety, convenience and maintain the city aesthetics to attract and retain residents, businesses, and visitors. For smart utilities, interoperability, reliability, security, and resilience are key for millions of smart meters and other devices to work across the network.
Has COVID-19 affected Wi-SUN Alliance’s customers or solutions?
While the global economic slowdown may have had some impact on smart technologies, the pandemic is likely to accelerate new initiatives in the future, especially in cities. Population growth is putting huge pressure on city authorities, planners, and service providers to tackle serious issues like traffic congestion, transport infrastructure, pollution, and other issues associated with increased urbanisation.
Wi-SUN is also seeing important developments around smart grid technology, which is critical as urban populations grow. Smart grids provide more than just remote meter reading; they can help to control loads on the electricity supply, helping to reduce peak demand and enable optimum use of renewables. As countries look to reduce carbon emissions, this sort of smart technology will become increasingly important.
Who are Wi-SUN Alliance’s partners?
Aside from Wi-SUN’s 300-strong member base of leading silicon, product and device companies, the organisation works closely with a number of partners globally for the testing and certification of products.
Wi-SUN-approved third-party test facilities are located around the world, including North America, Taiwan, Japan, India and, more recently, Brazil, where ELDORADO Institute became the first laboratory in South America to test and certify products designed for Wi-SUN FAN.
The organisation also partners with WISeKey, a leader in Trusted Digital Identity Management and Security Solutions as a Publicly Trusted CA, to provide certificate authority services to members.