PLC Channel: from Grids to Cars

Power distribution grids provide a physical medium not only for power delivery but also for data transmission through Power Line Communication (PLC) systems. However, since such a medium has not been designed specifically for this purpose, several challenges need to be overcome to realize reliable communication schemes.  The channel response is affected by multipath propagation, cyclic time variations and several forms of noise and interference are present. “The understanding of the medium characteristics is highly relevant for the scientific community. This is why we have carried out a number of experimental measurement campaigns in several different scenarios: outdoor power line networks, indoor home and industrial networks and even vehicular networks which include cars and ships,” Tonello says. His research group obtained new findings about the statistics of the PLC channel, as for instance in the domain of home PLC networks exploiting frequencies up to 300 MHz or in the domain of medium voltage power grids.

The analysis of the channel characteristics led to novel modeling approaches based on a statistical representation of the channel and are considered state-of-the-art by the research community. In detail, two approaches were followed: a top-down and a bottom-up approach. The top-down method is a phenomenological approach that exploits a parametric model for the channel response. The statistics of the parameters are obtained by fitting data from measurements. “This approach has been successfully applied to model in-home SISO and MIMO channels making also use of the data obtained in collaboration with the ETSI Specialist Task Force STF-410,” Tonello explains. Bottom-up channel modeling refers to an approach where the channel impulse/frequency response is obtained via the application of transmission line theory to a specified network topology, cables and loads characteristics. Conventionally, this approach is applied to obtain a specific response and it is also referred to as deterministic model. “To overcome this limitation we have proposed to use a statistical description of the network topology. In addition, to limit the computational effort, we have devised an efficient method for the computation of the channel transfer function for both SISO and MIMO channels,” Tonello comments.

Selected Publications

A. Pittolo, M. De Piante, F. Versolatto, A. M. Tonello: In-Vehicle Power Line Communication: Differences and Similarities Among the In-Car and the In-Ship Scenarios, IEEE Vehicular Technology Magazine, 2016.

M. Antoniali, F. Versolato, A. M. Tonello: An Experimental Characterization of the PLC Noise at the Source, IEEE Trans. on Power Delivery, 2016.

A. M. Tonello, A. Pittolo, M. Girotto: Power Line Communications: Understanding the Channel for Physical Layer Evolution Based on Filter Bank Modulation, IEICE Trans. on Communications, 2014.

A. M. Tonello, F. Versolatto, A. Pittolo: In-Home Power Line Communication Channel: Statistical Characterization, IEEE Trans. on Communications, 2014.

M. Antoniali, A. M. Tonello: Measurement and Characterization of Load Impedances in Home Power Line Grids, IEEE Trans. on Instrumentation and Measurement, 2014.

A. M. Tonello, F. Versolato, B. Bejar, S. Zazo: A Fitting Algorithm for Random Modeling the PLC Channel, IEEE Trans. on Power Delivery, 2012.

F. Versolatto, A. M. Tonello: An MTL Theory Approach for the Simulation of MIMO Power Line Communication Channels, IEEE Trans. on Power Delivery, 2011.

A. M. Tonello, F. Versolatto: Bottom-Up Statistical PLC Channel Modeling – Part I: Random Topology Model and Efficient Transfer Function Computation, IEEE Trans. on Power Delivery, 2011.

A. M. Tonello, F. Versolatto: Bottom-Up Statistical PLC Channel Modeling – Part II: Inferring the Statistics, Trans. on Power Delivery, 2010.

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