It’s a compelling story. Imagine an alliance, formed to develop a mesh AMI communication standard that provides a ubiquitous platform for interoperability. By standardizing power levels, data rates, modulations, and frequency bands, utilities are able to buy devices from any vendor with assurances that they will be interoperable. This is the Wi-SUN Alliance.
The narrative of reducing risk while creating a competitive environment is compelling. However, it doesn’t tell the entire story.
There is a fundamental flaw with Wi-SUN’s approach of standardizing on a platform—it isn’t backward compatible. Without upgrading hardware components, it’s nearly impossible to add new capabilities using the Wi-Sun approach to interoperability.
Imagine if cellular providers used Wi-SUN’s methodology. All smartphones would be 2G without an opportunity to improve. Instead, the telecommunications industry focuses on system standards, enabling applications to continue to work throughout the next generation of technology advancements without becoming obsolete. This allows technology to be both backward and forward-looking—a winning approach for all parties.
If you look at the above example and apply it to a mesh AMI network it becomes painfully obvious that there are deficiencies. With mesh, the endpoints are the network and they rely heavily on communicating through each other to reach the collectors. This means that in order to add new data rates, capacity, and frequency bands the entire network and associated endpoints must be replaced. This puts utilities in a complicated position. Although they are interoperable with today’s technology, they are unable to adapt to future communication advances and requirements.
With an evolving energy landscape, utilities are already facing an uncertain future. It’s more critical than ever for them to use current collectors and endpoints effectively.
The Wi-SUN story is intriguing on the surface, but when you dig deeper, it’s essentially planned obsolescence.