ZigBee and Wi-Fi to build smart grid protocol

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ZigBee and Wi-Fi to build smart grid protocol

Smart energy tie-up reduces risk, speeds standards acceptance.

Two networking groups have banded together to help householders monitor the energy use of their smart appliances.

The ZigBee and Wi-Fi alliances will collaborate on the next generation of the smart energy protocol that links devices over home area networks and to the power grid.

ZigBee was the leading protocol identified by governments in Australia and the US and the standards institute for transmission of information related to smart grids. But Victoria's Auditor General said last year that mandating ZigBee was "at odds" with Government's role to leave technology risk to the industry.

"As a result of this agreement, representatives from each organisation will provide input on one another's smart grid activities," said Wi-Fi Alliance chief executive officer Edgar Figueroa.

The smart energy protocol was designed to operate over the low-power ZigBee wireless network connected to a smart meter and devices in the home. The next iteration will support HomePlug and Wi-Fi, the groups said.

ZigBee is suited to wireless sensor networks by offering "robust self-organising, self-healing mesh networking, scalability, low cost and complexity" and good battery life, they said.

The Sydney Hilton hosts the IQPC National Smart Grids Forum March 23-25, which will hear speakers from vendors such as Logica and GE and energy companies such as Tasmania's Transend and Austin Energy from the US.

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