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On 16th August 2011, the HomePlug Alliance, Wi-Fi Alliance, HomeGrid Forum and ZigBee Alliance agreed to create an open consortium for Smart Energy Profile (SEP) 2 Interoperability, enabling a myriad of organizations from these alliances whose technologies support communications over internet protocol (IP) to certify SEP 2 in accordance to a consistent test plan. This partnership among alliances, leverages on the cumulative work and technological advances of many industries to bring smart grid benefits to consumers.

The joint certification and test program, selected by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2009 as a standard profile for smart energy management in home devices, will be used to certify wireless and wired devices that support IP- based smart energy applications and end-user devices such as thermostats, appliances and gateways. It will address devices operating on one or more of a variety of underlying connectivity technologies and provide the smart energy ecosystem – including utilities, product vendors and consumers – assurances of application and device interoperability. The program would utilize the processes and best practices recommended by the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) for smart grid testing and certification programs.

With this announcement, the outreach of the profile would be tremendous, aided by channels these alliances offer. Beyond interoperability amongst legacy and new devices targeted in the smart energy space, what can we see beyond this partnership? Perhaps, from a stack perspective, product engineers can now cherry-pick the best PHY/MAC interface to suite their requirements with appropriate software and hardware architecture. This alleviates the rigidity that comes along with applying the same PHY/MAC in different regions, especially in emerging segments such as smart energy and healthcare. Also, continuous innovation will be an ongoing occurrence at this layer (makings things cheaper and better) and this benefits everyone.