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Adoption by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) of a new IPv6 routing protocol for low power and lossy networks (RPL) will provide a significant boost the emerging 'Internet of Things'.

JP Vasseur, co-chair of the IETF Working Group responsible for RPL standardisation, writing on a Cisco blog (he is also a Cisco Fellow) said: "This new IPv6-based protocol will help to drive international standardisation across the many companies working actively to promote the adoption of networks of smart objects'¦ Networks of IP-based smart objects can now be deployed to support a myriad of applications such as smart metering and smart grid networks, and to advance solutions for smart+connected communities."

According to Vasseur, "The industry has for some time being working to develop new IPv6 protocols designed specifically for constrained networking environments such as IP smart objects. These smart objects typically have to operate with very limited processing power [and] memory and under low energy conditions, and as a result, require a new generation of routing protocols to help them connect to the outside world.

"When compared to computers, laptops or even today's generation of smart phones, traditional IPv6 protocols tend to work less effectively or consume energy at too rapid a rate for these small, self-contained devices or sensors that are often powered by small batteries that are difficult to replace."

Vasseur added: "For a number for years, smart objects such as sensors, actuators or RFID tags have been interconnected using proprietary protocols and architectures, which has lead to closed systems, lack of innovation and limited numbers of deployments. Very early on, Cisco recognised the need for the adoption of an IP-based architecture for smart object networks'¦based on an open standard, and IPv6 is without a doubt the most appropriate protocol'¦

"For example in September 2008, Cisco co-founded the IP for Smart Objects alliance (IPSO), an industry grouping of 57 member organisations with the mission of defining and shaping the Internet of Things."

A draft of the RPL standard is available on the IETF web site.  According to Vasseur, "The document is now with the [IETF] RFC Editor being prepared as an RFC. Publication may take a number of weeks more, but the content will not change from the Internet-draft."

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