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The Path to FAN Certification

The Path to FAN Certification

by Phil Beecher, President, The Wi-SUN Alliance

Certifying your product under the Wi-SUN Alliance’s FAN profile can give your customers added confidence in your solution. Here’s how it works.

Since our formation in 2012, we at the Wi-SUN Alliance have been driving the adoption of interoperable smart networks. These are the networks that will help to monitor and regulate the delivery of modern services, ranging from electrical power through to lighting. They help control smart streetlamps to keep our thoroughfares well lit. They govern the flow of traffic, safely guiding citizens on the move.

These ubiquitous networks support a rapidly-evolving society. They must be reliable and secure. For that to happen, the devices underpinning this infrastructure must behave predictably and in line with industry standards.

While the IEEE and other standards organisations define those standards, the Wi-SUN Alliance creates the technical specifications for implementing them in real-world situations. It is also responsible for certifying those implementations.

The benefits of certification

At the end of February, the Alliance held a webinar to explain how product vendors can gain the seal of approval under the Wi-SUN Certification Program. Certification brings benefits to both users and product vendors.  Products carrying the Wi-SUN CERTIFIED logo provide customers with peace of mind that their products comply with industry standards and work with other products on the market.

An additional benefit of the Wi-SUN testing and certification program is that it enables product vendors to access test equipment as well as participate in ‘plugfests’ and test events, vital accelerate the development cycle and improving confidence and equipment compliance and therefore reducing cost of certification testing

Wi-SUN’s Field Area Network (FAN) specification provides a framework for deploying interoperable, multi-service, secure IPv6 over wireless mesh networks in line with the global IEEE 802.15.4g/u/v standards. This specification is vital for next-generation services, such as advanced metering infrastructure and distribution automation, in which utility meters and equipment can not only communicate information back to the utility data management systems, but also directly between each other, enabling improved mechanisms for applications such as power outage and restoration management and electrical vehicle charging.

FAN is becoming a vital component in the creation of smart cities. Intelligent street lighting, deployed using a canopy mesh networks, enables a range of additional services such as city-wide traffic management and parking systems, and provides reliable, FAN-certified deployments to communicate mission-critical, real-time information. It is crucial that these deployments are rock solid.

Wi-SUN’s FAN specification handles everything below the application layer, from physical to transport. It dictates everything from discovery and registration on the network through to frequency hopping and IPv6 functions, including routing and unicast/multicast forwarding. The FAN specification integrates robust cyber security, including device authentication, using 802.1AR certificates and key management, message encryption and integrity verification.

The FAN technical profile specification specifies the communications behaviour of equipment. There is also a certification test plan, which describes how products will be tested to ensure compliance to the profile specification. Wi-SUN Alliance has recruited a network of independent testing laboratories to conduct the necessary testing.

The certification process

To certify their products under the FAN specification, organizations must submit a request to one of these laboratories. When the product vendor applies to the test lab, the lab checks with Wi-SUN to ensure that the vendor is in good standing before scheduling the test.

Products must pass two types of test to gain FAN certification. The first, known as the conformance test, ensures that the device conforms to the specification itself using specialized testing equipment. The second checks the device’s interoperability with reference implementations to make sure that it will work with other devices certified under FAN.

The tests use a test bed controller to execute a script controlling 14 separate devices from different vendors, known as test bed units. The testing environment collects traffic between these units and the devices under test using the Wireshark packet sniffer.

Upon completion, the test lab will provide the product vendor with a test report.

The product vendor may now submit necessary application for certification to the Wi-SUN Alliance certification program manager.  This paperwork includes the test report from the test lab and a declaration of conformance with the protocol along with any extra information needed for testing, and an Application for Wi-SUN Certification form. The vendor can also request the product to be listed on the Wi-SUN website. Wi-SUN can assist the product vendor to ensure that the application paperwork is in order, which processes the product certification and issues a paper certificate and an invoice to the vendor.

After certification, the vendor must then arrange for the installation of digital certificates in manufactured product, either from GlobalSign, which has been approved as the Alliance’s certificate authority, or by approval of the manufacturer’s own CA management. The vendor applies for an account, which GlobalSign sets up after checking with Wi-SUN to ensure that the vendor is in good standing. After GlobalSign processes the payment, the vendor can request the digital certificate digitally via a batch or REST-based API request.

FAN certification is dependent on geographic / regulatory region.  Wi-SUN is rolling out support for FAN certification in 19 regulatory domains, beginning with America (using the 902–928 MHz band), Japan (920-928 MHz) and Korea, followed by India (865-867 MHz), Europe (970-876 MHz) and South East Asia.

Wi-SUN’s network of approved testing labs is growing, but includes Telec and TUV Rheinland Japan for the Japanese region along with TUV Rheinland USA for America.

Vendors are eager to guarantee consistency and reliability for customers building next-generation smart, ubiquitous networks.

Contact us at the Wi-SUN Alliance today to discuss your certification needs and give customers the confidence that they need to invest in your solution.