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6 July 2018

CyanConnode launches Omnimesh, hopes to challenge in smart metering

Smart metering challenger CyanConnode has launched its new Omnimesh offering, part of its Omni IoT Platform, hoping to use its narrowband 6LoWPAN mesh protocol to win deals with utilities looking to deploy smart meters – tempting them away from the likes of LoRa, cellular (LTE Cat-M1, Cat-M2, Cat-NB1, and Cat-NB2), and even fellow utility specialist Wi-SUN.

There is still a huge amount of business up for grabs, and the market is certainly not entrenched yet. While Wi-SUN is the most obvious standard for this industry (Weightless is a long-shot to re-emerge), the licensed cellular vendors will be looking to win large deals. RF technologies, like CyanConnode’s and Sensus’ are other options, as are the unlicensed LPWAN options from Sigfox, LoRa, and perhaps Ingenu (it’s still not dead, apparently).

As such, CyanConnode has been ramping up its efforts to sign customers. Notable wins were a $10m deal in Bangladesh and a $29m deal in Ukraine. India is a strong focus for the company, and it has worked with E.ON in Scandinavian smart city projects. Headquartered in Cambridge, UK, it is now looking to push its Omni IoT Platform as a competitive option for prospective customers.

The development of our new Omnimesh product expands our global reach and ensures our technology can support global and country-specific standards for AMI,” said John Cronin, CyanConnode Executive Chairman. “Furthermore, this launch signifies the end of a major development program for the Company, which will result in a substantial reduction in development costs at the same time as opening up new revenue streams.”

Announced at Asia Utility Week, the Omni IoT Platform already meets the Indian requirements for smart metering (IS 16444 and 15959), and its meters are already being deployed by Genus – part of Uttar Gujarat Vij (UGVCL). Omnimesh is apparently being used by another unnamed Indian customer.

Jitendra Kumar Agarwal, Genus Power Joint Managing Director said “CyanConnode’s world class communication solution, based on IPv6 narrowband RF mesh network, meets the technical requirements for AMI for many of the utilities in India. Following the rapid integration of CyanConnode’s technology with our IS 16444 meters we are now implementing the IPv6-enabled smart meters at UGVCL. We understand, CyanConnode’s robust networks are proven by its customer deployments globally and therefore Genus looks forward to working with CyanConnode on this and other similar projects in India. By joining hands with such proven players, we are committed to make Smart Cities and Smart Grid possible in India.”

CyanConnode says that Omnimesh uses industry recognized open standards, namely the 6LoWPAN protocol – which is an IETF working group that specifies how to run IPv6 networking over low-power personal area networks (hence the acronym). Most of the work was on IEEE 802.15.4, on which Zigbee, Thread, and Wi-SUN are based, but you can also find a Bluetooth version too.

However, as you will have seen, the 6LoWPAN spec is not intended for Wide-Area Networking (WAN), and this is where CyanConnode comes in. A combination of DLMS/COSEM, IEEE 802.15.4, and 6LoWPAN provides CyanConnode with a technology that has a maximum range of 10km, using its sub-GHz frequencies, although it advises that the maximum practical range is more like 2km, once you factor in the link budget needed for challenging RF environments like basements.

Like Wi-SUN, the Omnimesh system is self-healing, and CyanConnode stresses that this feature allows you to build-as-you-go – simply adding more meters and having them join the required network. The stack is also agnostic with regard to meter manufacturers, meaning you shouldn’t be locked in. Hardware-based security is also implemented, which is important for these sorts of devices, as an attacker will have physical access.

The Omni IoT Platform itself was launched back in October, at European Utility Week. Designed to manage multiple separate systems through one dashboard, CyanConnode has made the platform agnostic to the networks and hardware used – although, it would of course like customers to opt for Omnimesh. Integrating legacy systems is also cited as a key use for the PaaS.

At that launch, COO Harry Berry said “we are thrilled to be launching a solution that provides customers and partners with a scalable IoT platform to manage multiple systems. Proven by the successful deployment of our narrowband RF mesh networks, we have the technology and experience to operate critical, quality assured private networks that provide cost-effective, flexible IoT communications.”