There are several factors to consider when choosing the right protocol for your application.

First, determine the system area you are most concerned with, e.g., the protocol from a SCADA master station to the SCADA RTUs, a protocol from substation IEDs to an RTU or a PLC, or a local area network in the substation.

Second, determine the timing of your installation, e.g., 6 months, 18 to 24 months, or 3 to 5 years. In some application areas, technology is changing so quickly that the timing of your installation can have a great impact on your protocol choice.

If you are implementing new IEDs in the substation and need them to be in service in 6 months, you could narrow your protocol choices to DNP3, Modbus, and Modbus Plus. These protocols are used extensively in IEDs today.

If you choose an IED that is commercially available with UCA2 MMS capability today, then you can choose UCA2 MMS as your protocol.

If your time frame is 1 to 2 years, you should consider UCA2 MMS as the protocol. Monitor the results of the Utility Substation Communication Initiative utility demonstration sites.

These sites have implemented new supplier IED products that are using UCA2 MMS as the IED communication protocol and Ethernet as the substation local area network.

If your time frame is near term (6 to 9 months), make protocol choices from suppliers who are participating in the industry initiatives and are incorporating this technology into their product’s migration paths.

This will help protect your investment from becoming obsolete by allowing incremental upgrades to new technologies.

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