Alliance pushes key piece of Smart Grid, mobile backhaul

The Smart Grid and mobile backhaul networks need a key timing standard to work over Ethernet and IP – and ensuring that equipment meets the standard is the focus of a group formed today.

The purpose of the IEEE 1588 Conformity Alliance is to verify equipment’s compliance with the IEEE 1588 standard, which specifies a way to keep different devices in sync over an Ethernet network.

While the standard has been in place since 2008, different groups are applying the standard to different application “profiles,” says Bob Mandeville, acting chair for the IEEE 1588 Conformity Assessment Program.

The ITU-T just recently completed the profile for mobile backhaul – that is, the carrying of signals from cell towers to the main cellular telecommunications network. In the past, T-1 or E-1 lines were used, so the timing was built in. But for cell phone calls to remain in sync over Ethernet and IP, IEEE 1588 must be used.

The alliance intends to come up with a test suite based on that profile, and then certify products as being in compliance with it. The alliance will also market the technology and act as its advocate.

The next application profile under consideration has to do with the Smart Grid, the federal government’s plan to create a more intelligent electrical power infrastructure using devices that can be aware of what is going on in other parts of the grid and react accordingly. That awareness requires the timing provided by IEEE 1588.

Founding members of the IEEE 1588 Conformity Alliance include Alcatel-Lucent, Anue Systems, Brilliant Telecommunications, Calnex Solutions, Huawei Technologies, Iometrix, and Symmetricom.

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