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Cisco Field Area Network At-a-Glance

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Updated:June 17, 2021

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The documentation set for this product strives to use bias-free language. For the purposes of this documentation set, bias-free is defined as language that does not imply discrimination based on age, disability, gender, racial identity, ethnic identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality. Exceptions may be present in the documentation due to language that is hardcoded in the user interfaces of the product software, language used based on RFP documentation, or language that is used by a referenced third-party product. Learn more about how Cisco is using Inclusive Language.

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Updated:June 17, 2021

Table of Contents




Last-mile data communications networks have gained considerable momentum over the past few years because of their prominent role in the smart-grid infrastructure. These networks, referred as Field Area Networks (FANs), support a variety of applications, including Distribution Automation (DA), remote asset management, smart metering, and remote workforce automation. The Cisco vision for FAN is to help enable pervasive monitoring and control of energy distribution networks to enhance energy delivery and build a low-carbon society. The Cisco® multiservice FAN solution is based on a flexible two-tier architecture that generates IP network services such as security, Quality of Service (QoS), resilience, and management, supporting use cases such as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), DA, and workforce automation.

The key features and considerations of the unified FAN architecture are:

     Communications technology-agnostic and layered network services based on IP architectures

     Standards-based integration of legacy assets

     Network security and compliance

     Disaster recovery and high availability architecture

What it does

Cisco FANs monitor and control energy distribution networks to improve their reliability, efficiency, and safety. The Cisco multiservice FAN solution is based on a flexible two-tier architecture that generates IP network services and offers, security, QoS, resilience, and management. The ability to converge many DA use cases across a single secure FAN architecture results in a lower total cost of ownership due to reduced FAN assets, simplified outside plant infrastructure, spare and expertise commonality, and limited frequency costs.

The secure virtualization of the FAN provides for many operational and nonoperational use cases such as:


     Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)

     Voltage (volt/VAR) optimization

     Smart meters and AMI

     Substation automation

     Workforce automation

     Connected and smart community services, street lighting, and more


Cisco’s unified Field Area Network solution provides utilities with many benefits, as compared with proprietary and non-IP-based technologies:

     Helps utilities to make optimal choices of communication technology based on specific application and deployment requirements, as well as to deploy a single converged IP-based architecture

     Provides utilities with a graceful migration roadmap for grid modernization and eliminates millions of dollars of Capital Expenditures (CapEx) associated with a complete equipment upgrade of deployed legacy assets

     Reduces project schedule risks and cost overruns by recommending mature and robust networking technologies

     Eliminates additional costs, time, and risks associated with design, deployment, and operation of proprietary procedures for security, high availability, Quality of Service (QoS), and other functions, plus new IT and security architectures and software applications

     Enables quick and cost-effective deployment of future applications based on integrated multiservice capabilities

“No matter what is happening in the world, we believe it is vitally important to help support the continued operation of technical infrastructure for utilities, oil and gas, and manufacturing organizations. Cisco helps provide solutions to keep critical industries up and running.”

Wes Sylvester,

Director, Global Industries Solutions Group

Call to action

The Cisco multiservice FAN solution consists of multiple high-performance components that make up a single, multiservice network communicating with diverse RF mesh software and Power-Line Communication (PLC) devices, including:

     Cisco connected grid endpoints that enable devices to communicate on an IPv6 RF mesh

     Cisco ruggedized, modular connected grid routers

     Scalable Cisco IoT Field Network Director software

For more information

Contact your Cisco representative or learn more online at www.cisco.com/go/smartgrid



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