Overview & Benefits

Overview

G3-PLC is a proven Powerline Communication technology offering lowest total cost of ownership and independency on telecom operators. It facilitates high-speed, highly-reliable, long-range communication over the existing powerlines. The features and capabilities of G3-PLC have been developed to address the difficult challenges of powerline communications. While earlier approaches were a step in the right direction, they fall short of meeting the technical and reliability requirements necessary in the hostile environment of PLC.

G3-PLC meets these requirements because of its unique features such as a mesh routing protocol to determine the best path between remote network nodes, a “robust” mode to improve communication under noisy channel conditions and channel estimation to select the optimal modulation scheme between neighbouring nodes. Furthermore, its support of IPv6, enabling easy integration of various application profiles, adds high versatility and carries G3-PLC well into the future.

G3-PLC is an open, international standard published by the International Telecommunication Unit ITU (https://www.itu.int/rec/T-REC-G.9903).

Field tests have proven that the simple elegance of a G3-PLC system lowers infrastructure costs when compared to other wired and wireless communications architectures. By communicating on the very powerline infrastructure it measures and controls, it avoids the need to create new communication paths through obstacles such as buildings, hills, and basements that block wireless communications. So, installation and maintenance costs are lower.

Benefits

G3-PLC was designed to meet present and future advanced networking and application layer needs. G3-PLC is the world’s only CENELEC /FCC/ARIB PLC solution supporting true IPv6 addressing.

When evaluating communications technologies, it is important to find a solution that

  • Provides a cost effective system architecture: By communicating over the existing powerlines, PLC technology minimizes infrastructure and maintenance costs. G3-PLC provides the long range communications and cost efficiency for medium- and low-voltage power grids.
  • Is standards based to ensure interoperability: G3-PLC is an international ITU standard and supports frequency bands worldwide (10 kHz to 490 kHz). The G3-PLC Alliance manages a strong certification program to facilitate interoperability between all adopters of the standard.
  • Includes security mechanisms to protect grid assets: G3-PLC supports MAC-level security using an AES-128 cryptographic engine.
  • Can function in harsh, noisy environments: The “robust” mode of G3-PLC improves communication under noisy channel conditions, operates at -1 dB SNR.
  • Coexists with older technologies such as S-FSK: G3-PLC coexists with older S-FSK (IEC 61334), and broadband IEEE P1901 and ITU G.hn standards.

Unique features

The features and capabilities of G3-PLC™ have been developed to address the difficult challenges of powerline communications. While earlier approaches were a step in the right direction, they fall short of meeting the technical and reliability requirements necessary in the hostile environment of PLC. The unique features of G3-PLC meet these requirements.

  • OFDM-based PHY (BPSK, QPSK, 8PSK) makes efficient use of the spectrum
  • Compliant with world regulatory bodies such as CENELEC, ARIB, and FCC (10 kHz – 490 kHz)
  • Standards based — pre-standard in IEEE, ITU, IEC/CENELEC and IEC/SAE.
  • Two layers of forward error correction (FEC) for robust data communication in harsh channels
  • Adaptive tone mapping for optimal bandwidth utilization
  • Channel estimation to select the optimal modulation scheme between neighbouring nodes
  • “Robust” mode to improve communication under noisy channel conditions
  • IEEE 802.15.4-based MAC layer well suited to low data rates
  • 6LoWPAN adaptation layer to transmit IPv6 packets over powerline channels
  • AES-128 cryptographic engine for optimum data security
  • Coexistence with older S-FSK (IEC 61334), and broadband IEEE P1901 and ITU G.hn standards
  • Supports IPv6 to allow Internet-based energy management systems and applications
  • Mesh routing protocol to determine the best path between remote network nodes.

Some key characteristics of G3-PLC are summarised in the table below. Regarding data rates, end- user should always consider typical throughput obtained just below the application layer (for example the UDP throughput) and latency instead of focussing on theoretical PHY data rates. When selecting a communication technology, empirical experience with the technology and performances reported for similar application use cases should be taken into account.
More detailed information is available in the user guideline ‘Introduction of G3-PLC for non-experts‘.

G3-PLC key characteristics
For more information please see ‘Introduction of G3-PLC for non-experts‘.

Standards

ITU-T G.9903

PLC frequency bandplans

G3-PLC operates in several bandplans covering the overall frequency range 3 – 500 kHz:

•CENELEC-A 35.9 – 90.6 kHz

•CENELEC-B 98.4 – 121.9 kHz

•ARIB 154.7 – 403.1 kHz

•FCC 154.7 – 487.5 kHz

RF operating frequencies (Hybrid PLC&RF Profile) according to IEEE 802.15.4-2020

•863 MHz, operating mode #1 and #2 (optional)

•866 MHz, operating mode #1 and #2 (optional)

•870 MHz, operating mode #1 and #2 (optional)

•915 MHz, operating mode #1 and #3 (optional)

•915-a MHz, operating mode #1 and #4 (optional)

•915-b MHz, operating mode #1 and #4 (optional)

•915-c MHz, operating mode #1 and #4 (optional)

Additional band are planned to be included in near future.

Network type

Dynamic routing mechanism supports self-healing mesh networking and automatic connection adjustment for selecting the optimum transmission path

Native end-to-end IPv6 connectivity

Transmission distance (PLC)

Up to 1,7 km point-to-point communication, depending on network characteristics and the electrical grid topology, can be achieved in actual field conditions.

Data rate

PHY data rate up to 280 kbps in FCC and up to 44 kbps in CENELEC-A (typical UDP throughput in FCC is 83 kbps and in CENELEC-A 17 kbps)

Latency

Depends on the actual network; typical ICMP ping roundtrip times are 56 ms in FCC and 120 ms in CENELEC-A (for a 1-hop communication)

Security

EAP-PSK (Extensible Authentication Protocol – Pre-Shared Key ) authentication

AES-128 (Advanced Encryption Standard with 128 bit key) encryption of MAC frames.