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IOT booms with Wi-SUN

In the Internet of Things (IoT), communication technology is crucial. With Wi-SUN, UPC is bringing a completely new approach to Switzerland: more secure, faster and more efficient.

In Copenhagen, cyclists enjoy a special safety feature at night: a "light tunnel" that brightly illuminates the street in front of the cyclist and dims it again behind him to save energy. To enable the street lights to coordinate with each other, they are directly connected by radio - via a technology called Wireless Smart Ubiquitous Network. Wi-SUN, or Wireless Smart Utility Network, is the ideal basis for the Internet of Things, the networking of streetlights, smart electricity meters, vehicles, sensors and much more.

IoT is booming

The Internet of Things (IoT) is developing rapidly. The market research company Gartner expects growth rates of over 30 per cent per year, and by 2020 more than 20 billion "things" will be networked worldwide. Wi-SUN is an important driver in this. The technology has several advantages over competing concepts. Conventional radio services are organised in a star shape and the end devices communicate with a central access point. Examples are mobile radio or WLAN, but also LoRaWAN and NB-IoT, two radio technologies that were developed specifically for the Internet of Things. Star-shaped networks are complex to configure and prone to interference. For example, if a truck drives in front of the access point, the connection can be interrupted.

Mesh instead of star

Wi-SUN is organised differently, namely as a mesh. Here, the terminals also communicate with each other, and the data is passed on from one terminal to another - up to 16 times - before it is collected at the access point. With this data hopping, distances of up to ten kilometres can be bridged. New end devices register automatically; if a connection fails, the mesh automatically looks for a diversion via another path.

Wi-SUN therefore has convincing advantages over other concepts when it comes to networking intelligent electricity meters or traffic control technology. As a result, around 90 million end devices are already working with it worldwide, and in some cities over a million in one network. London only recently connected 28,000 street lights with it. Nevertheless, Wi-SUN has not yet made the breakthrough in Switzerland; even many IT experts have little to do with the term so far. This has to do with the fact that many electricity providers or cities have been investing in infrastructures for the Internet of Things for several years, but have relied on other transmission technologies. Powerline, for example, is the obvious choice for electricity networks, i.e. the transmission of meter data via the power line. The mobile network operators have also secured a share of the cake. It is difficult for the companies to give up these investments in favour of a new technology.

Smart Metering Pilot Project

"Wi-SUN is late, but not too late," assures Stephan Ging, IoT expert and Director Solution Business at UPC. The customers' interest is there, but the know-how is not yet. Ging now wants to bring this to the customers together with the partner Elektron, the leading Swiss provider of solutions for Smart City and IoT. "We are convinced that Wi-SUN is the perfect complement to UPC's high-performance broadband infrastructure," says Enrico Baumann, Managing Director of Elektron. The partners' goal is to carry out pilot projects with cities and energy providers.



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