The Path to FAN Certification

by Phil Beecher, President, The Wi-SUN Alliance

Certifying your product under the Wi-SUN Alliance’s FAN profile can give your customers added confidence in your solution. Here’s how it works.

Since our formation in 2012, we at the Wi-SUN Alliance have been driving the adoption of interoperable smart networks. These are the networks that will help to monitor and regulate the delivery of modern services, ranging from electrical power through to lighting. They help control smart streetlamps to keep our thoroughfares well lit. They govern the flow of traffic, safely guiding citizens on the move.

These ubiquitous networks support a rapidly-evolving society. They must be reliable and secure. For that to happen, the devices underpinning this infrastructure must behave predictably and in line with industry standards.

While the IEEE and other standards organisations define those standards, the Wi-SUN Alliance creates the technical specifications for implementing them in real-world situations. It is also responsible for certifying those implementations.

The benefits of certification

At the end of February, the Alliance held a webinar to explain how product vendors can gain the seal of approval under the Wi-SUN Certification Program. Certification brings benefits to both users and product vendors.  Products carrying the Wi-SUN CERTIFIED logo provide customers with peace of mind that their products comply with industry standards and work with other products on the market.

An additional benefit of the Wi-SUN testing and certification program is that it enables product vendors to access test equipment as well as participate in ‘plugfests’ and test events, vital accelerate the development cycle and improving confidence and equipment compliance and therefore reducing cost of certification testing

Wi-SUN’s Field Area Network (FAN) specification provides a framework for deploying interoperable, multi-service, secure IPv6 over wireless mesh networks in line with the global IEEE 802.15.4g/u/v standards. This specification is vital for next-generation services, such as advanced metering infrastructure and distribution automation, in which utility meters and equipment can not only communicate information back to the utility data management systems, but also directly between each other, enabling improved mechanisms for applications such as power outage and restoration management and electrical vehicle charging.

FAN is becoming a vital component in the creation of smart cities. Intelligent street lighting, deployed using a canopy mesh networks, enables a range of additional services such as city-wide traffic management and parking systems, and provides reliable, FAN-certified deployments to communicate mission-critical, real-time information. It is crucial that these deployments are rock solid.

Wi-SUN’s FAN specification handles everything below the application layer, from physical to transport. It dictates everything from discovery and registration on the network through to frequency hopping and IPv6 functions, including routing and unicast/multicast forwarding. The FAN specification integrates robust cyber security, including device authentication, using 802.1AR certificates and key management, message encryption and integrity verification.

The FAN technical profile specification specifies the communications behaviour of equipment. There is also a certification test plan, which describes how products will be tested to ensure compliance to the profile specification. Wi-SUN Alliance has recruited a network of independent testing laboratories to conduct the necessary testing.

The certification process

To certify their products under the FAN specification, organizations must submit a request to one of these laboratories. When the product vendor applies to the test lab, the lab checks with Wi-SUN to ensure that the vendor is in good standing before scheduling the test.

Products must pass two types of test to gain FAN certification. The first, known as the conformance test, ensures that the device conforms to the specification itself using specialized testing equipment. The second checks the device’s interoperability with reference implementations to make sure that it will work with other devices certified under FAN.

The tests use a test bed controller to execute a script controlling 14 separate devices from different vendors, known as test bed units. The testing environment collects traffic between these units and the devices under test using the Wireshark packet sniffer.

Upon completion, the test lab will provide the product vendor with a test report.

The product vendor may now submit necessary application for certification to the Wi-SUN Alliance certification program manager.  This paperwork includes the test report from the test lab and a declaration of conformance with the protocol along with any extra information needed for testing, and an Application for Wi-SUN Certification form. The vendor can also request the product to be listed on the Wi-SUN website. Wi-SUN can assist the product vendor to ensure that the application paperwork is in order, which processes the product certification and issues a paper certificate and an invoice to the vendor.

After certification, the vendor must then arrange for the installation of digital certificates in manufactured product, either from GlobalSign, which has been approved as the Alliance’s certificate authority, or by approval of the manufacturer’s own CA management. The vendor applies for an account, which GlobalSign sets up after checking with Wi-SUN to ensure that the vendor is in good standing. After GlobalSign processes the payment, the vendor can request the digital certificate digitally via a batch or REST-based API request.

FAN certification is dependent on geographic / regulatory region.  Wi-SUN is rolling out support for FAN certification in 19 regulatory domains, beginning with America (using the 902–928 MHz band), Japan (920-928 MHz) and Korea, followed by India (865-867 MHz), Europe (970-876 MHz) and South East Asia.

Wi-SUN’s network of approved testing labs is growing, but includes Telec and TUV Rheinland Japan for the Japanese region along with TUV Rheinland USA for America.

Vendors are eager to guarantee consistency and reliability for customers building next-generation smart, ubiquitous networks.

Contact us at the Wi-SUN Alliance today to discuss your certification needs and give customers the confidence that they need to invest in your solution.

Global organisations storm ahead with IoT implementations but challenges persist

by Phil Beecher, President, The Wi-SUN Alliance

rise of iot66

With just a few days to go before the DistribuTECH conference and exhibition opens its doors to visitors from around the global, the Wi-SUN Alliance is putting the final touches in place to greet members, partners and guests to its booth no. 2861. Please do come along to say hello and find out more about our new industry research report ‘The Rise of the Internet of Things’.

5888 Origin Wi SUN Infographic WEB

The Internet of Things (IoT) has the power and potential to transform businesses and change the lives of citizens. It’s already happening around the world — from Birmingham to Bangalore and from New York to New South Wales. But just how fast is this digital transformation happening, what’s driving it, and where are the main challenges for organizations in utilities, smart cities and other industrial markets? That’s exactly what we set out to discover with this piece of research compiled from interviews with IT decision makers in the UK, US, Denmark and Sweden.

It reveals that IoT implementation is happening further and faster than perhaps many imagine: over half (51%) of those investing have already fully implemented an IoT strategy.

Driving success

This is an impressive vote of confidence in IoT — with sectors including oil and gas (75%), technology (59%) and energy and utilities (57%) seeing even greater numbers of organizations with fully implemented strategies.

But just why is IoT becoming so popular? The key drivers seem to be improving citizen safety and quality of life (47%), creating business efficiencies (42%) and improving the reliability of systems (41%).

Some 99% of IT decision makers say they are already seeing some clear benefits — most notably business efficiencies (54%), but also improvements to the customer experience (49%), collaboration (48%), reduced costs (45%) and faster time-to-market (40%).

Struggling with IoT

However, almost all (90%) respondents claim to have struggled with these projects.

Given the increase of real-world IoT-related cyber threats in the news, it’s perhaps not surprising that security is by far the biggest concern. With power stations being shut down by hackers in the Ukraine and Russian agents attacking the UK’s critical infrastructure, these are very real concerns.

But they’re not insurmountable, as long as we aim for enterprise-grade security across all IoT networks. That’s why we as Wi-SUN ensure devices are upgradable over-the-air to stay protected at all times, and are rendered unable to connect if the firmware has been replaced by an unauthorized third party. Other security controls enforced by the Wi-SUN Alliance include strong encryption and authentication of all network traffic, and frequency-hopping capabilities to combat eavesdropping and signal jamming. It’s the kind of multi-layered protection that IT leaders told us they now demand for smart cities (50%) and smart utilities (44%).

Aside from security, IT decision makers say they also encountered challenges around obtaining funding and getting leadership to support projects (both 32%). This illustrates the continuing need for IT bosses to communicate with the Board in language it understands, perhaps by sharing some of the many real-world examples that exist to show the value of IoT to the organisation.

Support for standards

The good news is that our research reveals strong support for open industry standards of the sort the Wi-SUN Alliance is promoting to drive IoT success across all industries. Over half say standardization is what they are looking for when evaluating these technologies. Other key criteria included network topology (58%) and communications performance (53%).

It’s heartening to see respondents so advanced in their planning and understanding of networking — with most (53%) favouring a combination of star- and mesh-based networks. We’re also glad to see IT bosses prioritizing latency and bandwidth; another area where Wi-SUN can help organizations’ IoT implementations.

We are delighted that IT decision makers are most likely to be familiar with Wi-SUN (56%) over other network technologies. It made us proud of the work we are doing and continue to do.

We continue to forge ahead with new standards, incorporating the latest technical innovations whilst crucially ensuring backwards compatibility for organizations. And we will continue our efforts to improve education and awareness in the industry, especially in areas like security where concerns are holding back deployments.

We’ve come a long way in a short space of time, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.

DistribuTECH takes place on January 23-25 2018 at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. Visitors to the Wi-SUN booth no. 2861 can hear more about the progress made with the Field Area Network (FAN) Profile and Certification Program as we continue to work rigorously towards the introduction of FAN Certified products later this year. Now is the time to get on board to learn what it takes to make sure your products are compliant. 

Wi-SUN will also be co-hosting a ‘lunch and learn’ event with security partner GlobalSign on Weds January 24, to explain new methods and technology available for end-to-end wireless security for utilities, smart cities and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). For more information and to register for the Wi-SUN and GlobalSign event, visit here.


Why security will be the key to the longevity of the Internet of Things

by Phil Beecher, President, The Wi-SUN Alliance

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It’s just a week before this year’s DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition kicks off in San Antonio, Texas. Attended by experts in all aspects of the utilities industry, the event attracts thousands of delegates from all over the world looking to network, learn and discuss what’s next in power distribution and transmission.

Wi-SUN will be making its presence felt at the event, so do stop by booth no. 2861 to hear more about the progress we are making with the Field Area Network (FAN) Profile and certification program as we continue to work rigorously towards the introduction of FAN certified products later this year.

We will also be co-hosting a ‘lunch and learn’ event with new identity and security partner GlobalSign on Wednesday January 24, where alongside other security experts, we will explain new methods and technology available for end-to-end wireless security for utilities, smart cities and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Nowhere is security more relevant right now than in the Internet of Things – and this year’s conference agenda at DistribuTECH reflects this, with plenty of focus on security, and sessions covering securing SCADA systems, data security and regulatory compliance, mobility and security, and much more. 

Speed, flexibility, cost saving and improved reliability are just some of the many benefits that IoT networks deliver, but with these benefits come increased risk of vulnerabilities to be exploited by hackers.Recent global research from Wi-SUN Alliance highlights that the majority of respondents see security as a barrier to IoT adoption. For this reason any organization embarking on an IoT project must take time to understand their requirements and ensure a robust security strategy is central to any network deployment.

Careful consideration should be given to each of the following five areas:

  1. Threat assessment – security should be integrated across all products and solutions to gain a better understanding of the threat landscape to thwart attacks and improve their ability to detect security breaches and reduce damage.
  2. Certificate-based authentication
    All devices should include certificate-based authentication, which is similar to a biometric passport and verifies that devices have not been tampered with or reprogrammed.
  3. The risk to critical infrastructure applications such as distribution automation and traffic management means that organizations must shoulder the responsibility for developing a strategy to manage risk.
  4. Standards based interoperability
    Creating a standardized ecosystem where devices and developers can communicate and work together incorporating robust security should be at the heart of development and design.
  5. Education
    Organizations must understand the risk that connected devices present and strengthen their defences accordingly. They must also implement policies and restrictions and educate both employees and consumers as to how they can protect themselves.

A connected world may be just around the corner, but the security risk it poses is a very real one. Organizations must start off on the right foot and make security central to their IoT strategy in order to realise the long-term benefits that IoT offers at minimal risk.

DistribuTECH takes place on January 23-25 2018 at the Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. The Wi-SUN Alliance will be on booth no. 2861. 

For more information and to register for the Wi-SUN and GlobalSign lunch and learn at 10.30am on Weds January 24, visit here.

Four Essential Facts about Wi-SUN; IoT’s Most Proven Network Technology

by Marina Donovan, Vice President Marketing, Silver Spring Networks and Chair of Wi-SUN Alliance Marketing Committee

Wi SUN essential facts

The Internet of Things (IoT) and its adoption continues to evolve at a rapid pace with Gartner forecasting that endpoints of the IoT will grow at a 32.9% CAGR from 2015 through 2020 reaching an installed base of 20.4 billion units.  There is no doubt that IoT, dubbed the fourth industrial revolution, will make people, organizations and processes smarter, faster and more efficient than ever before.  Fundamental to the growth and adoption of industrial IoT is the connectivity behind it. Understanding the advantages of these technologies is critical to maximizing the value of your IoT initiative.

Wi-SUN is the most widely deployed IoT network technology in the world – Who knew?

Today there is no single communications technology which can satisfy all applications, but it is the Wi-SUN Alliance’s belief that Wi-SUN is the leading technology in large-scale outdoor networking. Top analyst firms agree with this sentiment. With an estimated 85M+ RF mesh-based endpoints awarded worldwide, according to Navigant Research and Wi-SUN member companies, Wi-SUN is the most widely deployed IoT technology in the world.  This clearly surpasses the hype of other competing IoT technologies.

Rethink Technology research provides further support for Wi-SUN’s momentum, estimating that companies in the Wi-SUN ecosystem are set to enjoy continued growth at 20% CAGR, as mesh network technology begins to reach into new verticals and different business models are developed/implemented.

Wi-SUN is the most experienced IoT technology

The performance of Wi-SUN-based mesh networks has been proven for many years in an array of challenging and remote environments across the globe. Tens of millions of reliably connected endpoints demonstrate that a Wi-SUN-based IoT mesh network can achieve the ubiquity and scalability demanded by IoT customers.

So why is this?  Wi-SUN wireless networking technology is based on open standards, IEEE 802.15.4g.  Its mesh coverage, self-healing communication, reliable performance level, remote firmware upgradability make it a very compelling choice. 

Wi-SUN is ideal for a variety of industrial IoT applications – not just smart metering

While it is the major utilities that have recognized the importance of interoperable standards-based wireless communication networks and have chosen Wi-SUN technology for their advanced metering and smart grid networks, there are countless other sectors who can benefit from their experience and expertise with more than 50 million plus nodes deployed over the past decade.  

Similar to smart grid applications, smart cities and industrial IoT applications require advanced engineering with wireless outdoor networking and Wi-SUN Alliance Field Area Networks deliver multi-vendor interoperable solutions to a broad variety of applications including street lighting, parking systems and traffic management.  Municipalities can install products from different suppliers confident that they will seamlessly interoperate. For example, Oklahoma Gas & Electric is using Wi-SUN technology to network some 250,000 streetlights whilst cities including Bristol, Copenhagen, Halifax, Glasgow, London and Paris have also used the network in smart streetlight projects and it is their platform of choice as they continue expand their smart city infrastructure.

Wi-SUN is the most secure IoT technology
Security is a core concern for any network as compromised devices can be used to mount attacks on other networks, result in costly technology replacements or, even worse, disrupt essential services or public safety as would be the case for critical IoT networks. Wi-SUN-based networks offer the most robust security capabilities surpassing other networks in each of the following areas: authentication chain of trust, key exchange and distribution, key generation and storage, data transmission and network access control.

In summary, Wi-SUN is one of the strongest and most proven network technologies for organizations looking to implement a strong and robust IoT strategy. The Internet of Things is here. It’s evolving fast and organizations need to make strategic choices with the technology they invest in to ensure that it will stand the test of time for what could be years or even decades.

Musings from European Utility Week – Wi-SUN arrives in Europe

by Phil Beecher, President, The Wi-SUN Alliance

panel 1It’s been a busy couple of weeks but I’ve finally found the time to jot my musings down from European Utility Week (EUW) in Amsterdam. This is Europe’s premier event for the Utility Industry and the ideal place to find out what’s happening right now in the energy industry.

Wi-SUN Alliance has a well-established presence across the Americas and Asia-Pacific region and this year we have been investing time and energy into growing our presence in Europe: our efforts certainly paid dividends at this event. There was a large amount of interest at the Wi-SUN booth and we were constantly busy.

The event attracts 12,000 smart utility experts from across the energy industry and many visited the booth where we held useful conversations with a number of European Utility Companies, Telecom Service Providers as well as research houses Navigant and Berg Insights and several members of the press.  In addition, Wi-SUN Alliance had a strong presence with 24 member companies also exhibiting.

EUW’s major theme of digitalisation carried through and I was lucky enough to participate in a live panel discussion entitled ‘From Smart Cities to Digital Urban Platforms’ in which we were tasked with the challenge of answering what is the biggest barrier to creating low-carbon cities? My fellow panellists included Eric Woods from Navigant Research, Serge de Gheldere, co-founder and lead at Futureproofed, and Klimaatzaak, Bram Sieben of Liander and the USEF Foundation, Marc Delandre, G3-PLC Alliance and Eric L Helguen from EMBIX Smart Building Alliance. It proved an interesting and lively debate.

Another highlight of the event was the opportunity to sign a liaison agreement with the DLMS User Association.  The Wi-SUN Field Area Network is an ideal communications transport layer for DLMS/COSEM and we look forward to a fruitful collaboration.

So, it’s safe to say that it was a full and fruitful three days at EUW and the resounding message was that Wi-SUN has well and truly arrived in Europe’s smart utility space. We will be back next year for sure.


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