FlexNet Communications Technology

Communications Technology for Smart Metering, Smart Grid and Smart Cities

FlexNet™ is a wide area Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) technology specifically designed to support smart metering, smart grid, smart water networks and smart city projects like smart street lighting. Using a star topology long range radio, Flexnet enables direct two-way communications with each endpoint over a secure communications network. Long Range Radio offers the reach, coverage and stable connectivity that can not be achieved by other communications technologies such as mesh or cellular networks.

Deployment Experience
FlexNet is a proven solution developed by Sensus that provides dedicated, resilient and secure network infrastructure. Today, FlexNet is widely deployed around the world, with over 16 million smart meter and smart grid radio endpoints connected to the network. It has also recently been selected as the communications technology for the Great Britain Smart Metering Programme where it will be connecting to both gas and electric meters in 10 million homes. In Japan, FlexNet is currently available for selected small scale trials.

Network Architecture

Key Features

 

Cost Effective Single Solution
FlexNet is designed around the central concepts of Simplicity, Flexibility, and Reliability. FlexNet supports long range reliable transmission which can be achieved with minimal infrastructure and without other in-fill solutions, resulting in low deployment, operational and maintenance costs.

Simple Architecture
Connection is directly achieved from endpoint to base stations without street level furniture. Therefore no collectors or concentrators are required to store and forward meter data, avoiding latency and any complexity in the network architecture.

Connectivity
FlexNet provides over 99% first time connect-rates to endpoints due to its excellent propagation characteristics and powerful building penetration of long range radio technology. The base stations provide an unusual depth of coverage using overlapping radio coverage whereby an endpoint can connect to at least 2 base stations at any given time, ensuring if one path is blocked then it can use another route. FlexNet can also transmit with a variety of transmission modes providing reliable connectivity.

Coverage
FlexNet is designed to be deployed and operate seamlessly across different geographic terrains and building types, including densely populated cities as well as rural and mountainous regions. A single base station can cover 10,000s of meter endpoints covering a range of up to 5-20km depending on the deployment environment. The low noise floor of the licensed band and higher transmission power of the endpoints combine to provide FlexNet the highest range of any AMI system on the market.

Future Proof
FlexNet is a resilient and reliable communications infrastructure capable of withstanding natural and man-made disasters. It has been designed to be adaptive and self-healing during service life to retain optimum signal path. The utilization of primary-use licensed spectrum ensures that the system performance will not degrade over time due to interference from other systems and devices.

Data Backup
The TGB has the ability to store up to 30 days of meter reading data from all meter endpoints in its service area in the event of extended failure of the data links. The FlexNet system can store up to 13 months of data in conjunction with the head-end software.

Security
FlexNet features third-party certification for end-to-end system security, multi-layered security from smart meter to MDMS system, fully integrated encryption and enhanced key management.

International Standard Protocols
Sensus supports the standardization of products and communications systems through the active membership of multiple trade bodies in the US, Europe and other international markets. FlexNet supports international standards such as IPv6 and DLMS cosem deployments.