A secure and robust backbone is key for the Industrial IoT revolution

By Livia Rosu, HomeGrid Forum, Marketing Chair

Each year, we are seeing a growing number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices enter the smart home and smart city market, all with a varying range of use-cases. Experts predict that by 2025, more than 75 billion IoT devices will be connected. This means it is critical that the network infrastructure supporting these devices ensures full interoperability, scalability and high levels of security for multiple systems. At a time when many of us are working and learning from home, this has never been more important. At the same time, G.hn technology is expanding its applications, from home networking and broadband access, to smart grid and smart cities, with industrial segments now experiencing a revolution of applications and all-around connectivity like never before.

IoT has huge potential to transform the way we live our lives. From smart technology within our homes, to intelligent networks within industrial environments, the infrastructure must be supported by a strong backbone to offer the essential connectivity that enables the reliable and secure transfer of data. This is where the work we do at HomeGrid Forum is key – developing and promoting gigabit connectivity (G.hn). G.hn provides a robust and powerful backbone through which a multitude of IoT devices can operate seamlessly and reliably.

Addressing demand

As innovation within the IoT space continues to advance, it is important that there is a standards-based broadband solution, such as G.hn, that can meet the increasing demands for high bandwidth and reliable connectivity, whilst negating the need for expensive upgrades. G.hn allows service providers to reduce costs by delivering Gigabit-class broadband services over existing wiring in residential environments, including phone lines, power lines, coaxial and twisted pairs, without installing expensive fiber or any new cables. 

By providing a multi-vendor interoperability approach throughout the industry, G.hn allows for simple integration and installation into a wide range of infrastructures. Originally developed to solve home networking challenges, G.hn was quickly utilized for other applications, including multi-dwelling units that already had coaxial or phone service cabling. It will continue to be leveraged for a wide range of next-generation emerging applications to ensure new devices can actively initiate communication within a network.

New Industrial Applications

Until recently, IoT devices have been primarily consumer-focused, providing smarter connectivity inside homes and buildings. However, the industry is rapidly capitalizing on its deployments and expertise to change the entire landscape in every sense of the word, addressing industrial IoT aspects with factory machinery and sensor-based control of any possible networking.

Smart building applications that use G.hn technology include smart elevator control and building access control with video surveillance, environmental sensing, and smart lighting controls. These can all benefit from a simplified installation through power wire integration, reverse power feeding options and extension of the Ethernet connectivity for larger distance.

Smart parking networks rely on G.hn systems for enabling fast parking guidance, easy location of the parked vehicles, and real time occupancy topology confirmations of the used parking slots, as well as ensuring reliable backbone for global HD video surveillance.

Smart street lighting and systems for smart cities are using G.hn nodes for enabling energy savings and lowering operating costs. Public lighting represents an expensive and underutilized infrastructure which can be leveraged for driving further interconnectivity services and offering additional benefits to citizens.

G.hn based infrastructure integrates video surveillance for safety services, sensor networks and Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations for smart EVs. Smart cities deploying industrial IoT solutions with G.hn nodes are enabling the gradual integration of IP devices ranging from adaptive lighting to safety panels, while offering an energy efficient platform for smart cities of the future.

Minimising security risks

Uncertified IoT devices present a real security risk, with vast amounts of data being created and shared within a network. According to a recent ISACA report, cyberattacks rank as the fastest growing crime in the US and globally, cybercrime damages are expected to reach US $6 trillion by 2021. As cyber-attacks rise, it is imperative that data can be transferred securely without risk of interception.

G.hn uses 128 wire speed AES encryption with incorporated point-to-point security within a domain to reduce the risk of data being compromised. Through its design, G.hn technology supports relays allowing it to work within complex network topologies and over large distances to ensure a message remains untampered.

A key aspect of ensuring this security is certification. It is important that G.hn devices are certified at the silicon and service level before they are installed, to guarantee the security of the networks. Through HomeGrid Forum’s world-renowned certification program, the alliance aims to ensure the quality and consistency of G.hn products to promote an ecosystem of compliant and interoperable products. This guarantees that end users receive high performance, while keeping risks low. As networks remain under pressure due to increasing data traffic and demand, the need for global standards, certified products and mature technology has never been greater.

While minimizing security risks at all levels, G.hn infrastructure also has the ability to increase safety within the field of manufacturing and any sensor-based industrial IoT space, by ensuring low latency, collection of data in real-time, networking alerts for damaged equipment, and full control of the IoT-powered robots.   

Future of the IoT connectivity landscape

Market research has predicted a digital transformation wave expected to connect more than 75 billion Industrial IoT devices by 2025, creating between $1.2 and $3.7 trillion market value. Over the coming months, G.hn deployment is expected to increase and expand into a range of industries that require reliable, high performance connectivity, from utilities, hospitality and smart factories, to smart transportation and logistics resource planning. G.hn has already seen a surge in adoption in the smart grid and smart city sectors worldwide, which shows no signs of slowing down as demand increases and our lives become ever more connected. For the next level, IIoT vision comes with e2e IP connectivity and agile control to empower an industrial revolution.