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ZigBee Update Brings Mesh Networking to 920-MHz HEMS

ZigBee Update Brings Mesh Networking to 920-MHz HEMS

The ZigBee Alliance, leading the way in global standardization of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and home networks, has completed development and testing of an IP update dubbed “920IP.” ZigBee IP is an open, global standard for an IPv6-based full wireless mesh-networking solution to control low-power, low-cost devices. Its development was in response to Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) designation of 920 MHz for use in home energy-management systems (HEMS).

The 920IP update specifically supports ECHONET Lite—endorsed by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) as a smart home standard—as well as the requirements of HEMS, bringing the benefits of multi-hop mesh networking to both arenas. Features include enhancement of the IEEE 802.15.4 standard with the addition of security layers and an application framework. The mesh network is based on various standard Internet protocols, including 6LoWPAN, IPv6, RPL, and UDP. Security and authentication features, such TLS-PSK, EAP and PANA, and link-layer frame security based on the AES-128-CCM algorithm, also fall under the 920IP umbrella.

According to ZigBee, mesh networking offers advantages not available with other approaches like point-to-point and point-to-multipoint topologies. Since radios in a mesh network can talk to more than one device at a time, each communicated data packet can reach its destination via multiple potential paths. This flexibility helps accommodate interference in the radio spectrum and/or blockages. The mesh-network architecture also boosts coverage distances.

Development efforts of the standard were led by Ad-Sol Nissin, NEC Engineering, OKI, Skyley Networks, and Texas Instruments. The ZigBee Alliance plans to announce an extension of the ZigBee Certified program to certify end products for ECHONET Lite devices using 920IP. The Alliance also entered into agreements with the Telecommunications Technology Committee (TTC) and the ECHONET Consortium to further support development efforts. 

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