Market communication in the energy market with AS4 and NoSpamProxy
The Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) has determined the staged introduction of the AS4 communication protocol for safeguarding electricity market communication. After a transition phase in parallel operation with AS2 from October 1, 2023, all other communication channels will be switched off by April 1, 2024. Find out why you are best equipped for AS4 communication with NoSpamProxy in this article.
What does market communication mean?
Market communication (Marktkommunikation, MaKo) refers to the exchange of files between market participants in the German energy market. To enable this communication, uniform data formats for automated and efficient communication among energy suppliers have been introduced, among other things. The Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) as well as the Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft (BDEW) and the Deutsche Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches e. V. (DVGW) ensured that business processes and data exchange formats were standardised. Above all, the cross-association expert group EDI@Energy under the leadership of the BDEW is in charge of drafting the regulations for the secure exchange of transmission files.
What is AS4?
AS4 stands for Applicability Statement 4 and is a communication protocol developed specifically for use in B2B communication. It is based on the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) standards and was developed to ensure the security, reliability and interoperability of electronic messages.
EDI enables the exchange of structured business documents using a standardised electronic format such as EDIFACT (Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport). Such EDIFACT files are in turn an important part of the business processes for supplying customers with electricity (GPKE).
AS4 provides a standardised method for the exchange of business documents and messages between different parties via the internet.
What are the advantages of AS4?
As mentioned above, AS4 was developed to improve interoperability between different systems and protocols and to enable the exchange of data across different networks. It is based on HTTP and ebMS (Reliable Messaging Extension), which minimises data loss and ensures high reliability. It also offers various security mechanisms such as encryption and digital signatures and supports common security standards such as TLS and S/MIME.
In short, AS4 ensures confidentiality, integrity and availability of data, enabling secure market communication.
When is AS4 mandatory?
On March 31, 2022, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) published the determination on the future safeguarding of electronic market communication for electricity:
From July 2022, all market participants must start project planning for the new transmission path in market communication.
From October 2023, all market participants are obliged to fulfil the technical requirements for the exchange of the specifications to the new transmission path.
By April 2024, all market participants must have completed the changeover to the new communication channel.
In short: All market participants are obliged to switch their communication with all market partners to AS4 between October 1, 2023 and March 31, 2024 without exception.
Easy exchange of AS4 files with NoSpamProxy
AS4 uses HTTPS-based endpoints of the respective communication partners. NoSpamProxy customers benefit from a seamless integration of AS4 into NoSpamProxy:
Automation for easy operation
The data exchange addresses of the market partners, the URL of the AS4 web service call (AS4 address) and the certificate with the public key are immediately available after logging on to a registration page.
This is necessary because the market partners must exchange the data exchange addresses including the certificates to be used before sending data for the first time in order to enable the greatest possible automation. This step is done easily and conveniently with NoSpamProxy.
All relevant data of our customers’ communication partners are automatically transferred to the NoSpamProxy configuration in this way. A manual configuration is not necessary.
Dedicated user interface for market communication
NoSpamProxy customers also benefit from their own user interface: Administrators for market communication can comfortably manage their market partners as well as the required certificates and AS4 endpoints via the interfaces.
A separate user group for these administrators and their own message tracking makes it possible to ensure market communication without the involvement of email administrators.
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