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Freescale, arivus develop OFDM PLC solutions

Posted: 05 Mar 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:OFDM? power communications line? solution modem?

Freescale Semiconductor Inc. and arivus GmbH have teamed up to develop advanced OFDM power line communications (PLC) modem solutions. These next-generation PLC solutions target a wide range of building control applications such as automated meter reading (AMR), energy management, and lighting for the European Union and global deployment. The two companies are demonstrating an advanced AMR solution based on arivus PLC technology and next-generation Freescale MCU technology.

Energy management for homes, offices and factories is being mandated by governments in a bid to reduce global CO2 emissions and the growing costs of energy. Connectivity between the utility provider and the meters enables greater control of power, water or gas by the utility customer while also offering opportunities for load balancing for the utility. PLC technology offers remote connection with the premises, enabling real-time updates of tariffs and choices for the customer. In return, the customer can allow temporary reduction of power use at peak times to be controlled by the utility. OFDM communications already used in mobile phones is at the forefront of this PLC revolution.

OFDM PLC technology offers higher communication data rates using much of the available frequency spectrum. Communications in the range of 10kHz to 490kHz enables real-time communications with power meters. Propagation of messages from meter to meter enables wide-area connectivity while still managing the network and adapting to constant changes in the network. Backwards compatibility with S-FSK modems will help ensure easy integration into existing networks. Freescale and arivus plan to work together to support open standards for power line modem communications to support metering and building connectivity.

Adding OFDM PLC to Freescale's existing portfolio is an important step to support comprehensive systems.

"This collaboration allows us to continue to develop our portfolio to support smart grid requirements with robust technology, providing reliable connectivity through OFDM PLC," said Bruno Baylac, director of marketing for Freescale's industrial segment.

iAd developed the first OFDM-based PLC chip in the mid-1990s and introduced the Distribution Line Carrier DLC brand, targeting the utilities distribution sector. The first OFDM DLC chip generation entered the market in 2000.

The utilities market demands multiple supply chains of compatible systems, products and chip solutions. arivus was created to market the DLC technology, supply components to the metering industry and sell complete meters.

"DLC communications is much more than only the single chipset. In addition to silicon, you have to focus on essential solutions within the communication system software," said Karsten Pott, managing director of arivus. "Only a sound handshake between hardware and software results in high performing availability, for example, with re-routing and transmitted data rates. Together with Freescale, we see plenty of opportunities for improved offerings to the smart grid market."

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