IEC 60870-5-103

IEC 60870-5-103 is an international standard, released by IEC (International Electrotechnical Comission) at the beginning of the 90ies. It allows the coupling of a central unit to several protection devices and is primarily used in the energy sector. The standardized function range is especially designed for the communication with protection devices and therefore it's difficulty to adapt it to other applications.

The protocol is based on the EPA architecture (Enhanced Performance Architecture), defining only the physical link and application layer of the OSI layer model.

IEC 60870-5-103 is mainly used for relatively slow transmission media on asynchronous V.24 (RS232) and RS485 interfaces. Connection via fibre optics is also covered by the standard. The transmission speed in general is specified with a maximum of 19200 Baud.

IEC 60870-5-103 is a 'Companion Standard' and is extended by the following standards:

  • IEC 60870-5-1
    defines different frame formats, IEC 60870-5-103 applies only the FT1.2 format
  • IEC 60870-5-2
    defines the transmission mode on the link layer
  • IEC 60870-5-3
    defines the basic application data structure
  • IEC 60870-5-4
    defines how information elements are encoded
  • IEC 60870-5-5
    defines basic application layer functions

Interoperability between devices by different vendors is ensured by the interoperability list, which is defined by the standard. In the list, the function range is defined for each device by marking the applicable functions. The common denominator between different vendor lists defines the possible function range.

In addition to standard protocol functions, IEC 60870-5-103 also accommodates extensions for proprietary vendor-specific functions. These are used extensively by manufacturers of protection devices. As a result compatibility between devices by different vendors cannot always be ensured. The function range can further be extended by using generic data objects, which allow the transmission of any kind of information in both directions.


7 Application Layer IEC 60870-5-103
IEC 60870-5-5, IEC 60870-5-4
6 Presentation Layer n/a
5 Session Layer n/a
4 Transport Layer n/a
3 Network Layer n/a
2 Link Layer unbalanced
IEC 60870-5-2
IEC 60870-5-1 (FT 1.2)
1 Physical Layer EIA RS485, RS232 (V.24), Fibre Optics

Supported Standardized Information Types

Control Direction
  • Double Command
Monitoring Direction
  • Double indication [2 bit] with quality and time tag
  • Double indication [2 bit] with quality, time tag and relative time
  • Measured normalized value with quality
  • Measured floating point value with quality, time tag and relative time

Selection of Supported Generic Information Types

Control Direction
  • Single indication [1 Bit]
  • Double indication [2 bit]
  • ASCII 8-bit code
  • Measured scaled value
  • Measured floating point value
Monitoring Direction
  • Single indication [1 Bit]
  • Double indication [2 bit]
  • ASCII 8-bit code
  • Measured scaled value
  • Measured floating point value

Protocol Features

  • Physical Layer

    PCM, half-duplex

  • Link Layer

    Party line or point to point

  • Application Layer

    On-demand transmission (e. g. double indications, analogs, ...)
    Spontaneous transmission (e. g. double indications with time tag, ...)
    Command execution
    Clock synchronization

  • Address Space

    Link address: 0..255
    Common Address of ASDU: 1..255
    Function Type: 0..253
    Information number: 0..255

Implemented Protocol Stacks

IEC 60870-5-103, Master

IEC 60870-5-103, Slave

Applicable Products

  • ipConv

    Universal protocol converter for highest degree of flexibility

  • ipConvOPC

    Softwarepackage for conversion between OPC DA 3.0 Server and standard protocols

  • Fink WinPP Protocol Simulator
    Fink WinPP Protocol Simulator

    Simulationsoftware for IEC 60870-5-101, IEC 60870-5-102, IEC 60870-5-103, IEC 60870-5-104, SINAUT 8-FW 16-1024 PCM/DPDM


    COMETA, Spain

    Products: ipConv
    Protocol Stacks: IEC 60870-5-103, Master IEC 60870-5-101, Slave IEC 60870-5-101, Master Simatic TDC, Master

  • INELFE, France-Spain
    INELFE, France-Spain, France-Spain

    Products: ipConv
    Protocol Stacks: IEC 60870-5-103, Master IEC 60870-5-104, Master IEC 60870-5-104, Slave IEC 61850, Client Simatic TDC, Master

  • Altentreptow North
    Altentreptow North, Germany

    Products: ipConv
    Protocol Stacks: IEC 60870-5-103, Slave IEC 61850, Client

  • ABBOPC1013
    ABBOPC1013, Switzerland

    Products: ipConv
    Protocol Stacks: IEC 60870-5-101, Slave IEC 60870-5-103, Master OPC DA 3.0, Server OPC DA 3.0, Client OPC AE 1.10, Client OPC AE 1.10, Server