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Silver Spring's Starfish provides IPv6 network for IoT

Steve Rogerson
December 16, 2015
Silver Spring Networks has announced Starfish, an international wireless IPv6 network service for the IoT. Starfish could enable commercial enterprises, cities, utilities and developers to access a reliable, secure and scalable IoT network service with service level agreements (SLAs).
The California-based company has already delivered more than 22 million connected devices for IoT networks on five continents. Building on this footprint, Starfish will first be available in the North American cities of Chicago, San Antonio and San Jose; the European cities of Bristol, Copenhagen and Glasgow; and in Calcutta, India.
The plan is to expand the coverage across North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand throughout 2016 and beyond.
The company has also launched the 2016 IoT Hackathon series planned for Bristol, Calcutta, Chicago, Copenhagen, San Jose and Singapore, and tools that will make it easier for device makers and software application developers to participate in the benefits of the international IoT network buildout.
Starfish builds on the open IEEE 802.15.4g wireless interoperability standard (Wi-Sun) and raises the bar on what should be expected from an IoT network by delivering up to 1.2Mbit/s in speed, 10ms latency, up to 80km in point-to-point range, nearly limitless mesh range, multiple network transports, and industrial-grade security, reliability and scalability.
"As billions of devices join the internet of things, open standards are crucial in providing confidence in the interoperability of these large-scale international networks,” said Phil Beecher, chairman of the Wi-Sun Alliance. “Silver Spring is a long-time open standards leader and participant, and we applaud their IoT service expanding the availability of Wi-Sun Fan’s superior performance, security and reliability to customers and developers worldwide.”
Starfish will also provide device and application management and control functions, an IoT-scale data platform, and access to one of the industry’s largest open partner ecosystems.
“We have entered a new era – ubiquitous connectivity of billions of devices and real-time data across massive-scale networks are unlocking untold social and economic opportunities,” said Mike Bell, president and CEO of Silver Spring Networks. “With the Starfish IoT network service, Silver Spring is opening up one of the most reliable, scalable and secure IoT networks on the face of the earth. We want to make connecting to the potential of the internet of things as simple as subscribing to the plan of your choice.”
While many other IoT networks suffer from limited bandwidth, are based on proprietary technology, face reliability and scalability problems, and struggle with security, Starfish combines a proven IoT networking platform with full SLAs and brings industrial-grade security to every device. As part of Starfish’s larger set of tiered service offerings, Silver Spring also introduced the Haiku service plan, which will deliver 5000 messages times 16byte per month for free, suitable for users with smaller data needs.
“We are proud to work with an innovative company like Silver Spring Networks on a project to deploy a citywide internet of things network across our city,” said Sam Liccardo, mayor of San Jose, California. “This type of secured network will help us further our smart city goals by connecting the next generation of critical infrastructure, power modern smart city services, and establishing a platform for future IoT innovations, business investment and entrepreneurship.”
For more than a decade, Silver Spring has delivered wireless IPv6 mesh networks for some of the most rigorous customers and applications in the world – with more than 22 million Silver Spring-enabled devices delivered, designed for 99.9 per cent reliability, across hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of dramatically varied dense urban and remote rural topographies, in harsh outdoor environments, and with some field lifespans of a dozen years or more.
With Starfish, entities such as city departments, utilities, public lighting operators, highway and transportation administrations, infrastructure services companies, large campuses and port authorities, commercial enterprises, and device makers and developers will be able to access a scalable IoT network that is already connecting millions of critical devices today. The company intends to expand the availability of Starfish rapidly to additional geographies and cities in 2016 and beyond.
The initial international rollout of Starfish includes collaborations with the Bristol is Open smart city programme, CESC in Calcutta, the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and a demonstration partnership with the city of San Jose, as well as additional planned Starfish availability in the cities of San Antonio, Copenhagen and Glasgow.
“An open internet of things network is crucial for the Future City Glasgow programme, connecting street lights, sensors, traffic cameras and other devices across our city,” said Councillor Frank McAveety, leader of Glasgow City Council. “In collaboration with Silver Spring we can extend this open IoT network to connect anything else with a digital heartbeat, unlocking vast quantities of data to help us better manage city services, improve health and safety, increase reliability and efficiency, and be a catalyst for new business and entrepreneurial opportunities that drive economic growth.”
Sanjiv Goenka, chairman of CESC, added: “By teaming with Silver Spring, we believe we will offer the most robust and cost-effective IoT networking in India. Implementation of IoT is critical to meeting India’s objectives for economic growth and sustainability and we are proud to be leading in this effort.”
And Paul Wilson, managing director at Bristol is Open, said: “We are collaborating with Silver Spring to establish an open and ubiquitous network fabric for the internet of things across Bristol. An open, interoperable, standards based approach to IoT is an important building block in our journey towards creating the world’s first open programmable city. Today’s news from Silver Spring will hasten the ambition of the entrepreneurs, researchers, civic agencies and commercial enterprises who work with us on the development of Bristol’s city-scale IoT test-bed.”
IoT hardware and software development kits are planned to speed integration development and testing. The kits will provide specifications and documentation, access to test hardware and networks, a verification process, and development support. An extra software development kit will include a cloud-based development sandbox, access to APIs and documentation, reference material and sample code, a verification process, and development support.
Members of the company’s global partner programme will also receive ongoing lifecycle management and multi-tiered product support.
At the hackathon series, participants will be able to develop and test their latest innovations in real-world environments and collaborate with IoT technologists around the world. Winners will receive development grants and an opportunity to offer their products into the global Silver Spring customer and partner ecosystem.
“We’re honoured to collaborate with Silver Spring to help extend their IoT network in Chicago,” said Mohammad Shahidehpour, director of the Robert W Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “Ubiquitous, reliable and scalable communications infrastructure is critical for Chicago’s ongoing economic growth and energy sustainability. IIT’s strength in energy and technology research and innovation is a perfect complement to Silver Spring’s IoT initiatives. We look forward to applying this world-class technology not only across the IIT campus but also seeing our students and research communities participate in the 2016 global IoT hackathon."