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Inter-Control Center Communications (ICCP) & TASE.2 Protocols: Definition & Uses

Instructor: Haylee Liska

Haylee has a Master's Degree in Computer Science (CS) and has experience teaching as a CS Graduate Assistant.

The Inter-Control Communications Protocol is an international standard for power utility control centers. In this lesson, we will dive into the protocol definitions, functionality, and place in the OSI Model.

Inter-Control Center Communications Protocol

The Inter-Control Center Communications Protocol (ICCP), also known as the Telecontrol Application Service Element (TASE.2) protocol, is an international standard for communications between control centers in the electrical power sector. This protocol is formally referred to as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 60870-6-TASE.2 and is necessary for the interoperability of control centers in a multi-vendor market. Despite wherever the control center is and whoever operates it, each center is able to communicate critical information to another by utilizing this protocol.

Background

ICCP falls under the IEC 60870 set standards within the electrical power sector. These set of standards are used to define telecontrol systems and are broken down into six parts.

  1. IEC 60870-1: General Considerations
  2. IEC 60870-2: Operating Conditions
  3. IEC 60870-3: Electrical Interfaces
  4. IEC 60870-4: Performance Requirements
  5. IEC 60870-5: Transmission Protocols
  6. IEC 60870-6: Telecontrol Protocols

While the other standards deal with defining the overall structure of telecontrol systems, IEC 60870-5 and IEC 60870-6 deal with network communications. IEC 60870-5 focuses on message transmission between two telecontrol systems. Similarly, IEC 60870-6 focuses on telecontrol communication while additionally maintaining compliance and compatibility to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards. By complying to ISO standards, the IEC 60870-6 protocols allow for the communication of time sensitive data on an international scale.

Functionality

ICCP is executed at the top of the Application Layer in the OSI model. This protocol operates over LAN and WAN networks to allow for the exchange and monitoring of time sensitive critical control data. The data exchange is performed through the use of client / server communication principles amongst and between control centers such as power plants, substations, and Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. Any control center can act as both a client and a server, requesting or providing information as needed to other control centers. This includes providing multiple communication sessions between one client or several clients at once in order to prioritize the timeliness of data transfers. When considering the basic functionality of ICCP, it is expressed in terms of building blocks. The later blocks build off of the functions of the earlier ones to form the complete capabilities of the protocol. Each block is referenced to numerically or by a title relating to its functionality; altogether they are referred to as conformance blocks.

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