Office & Enterprise

Meeting bandwidth and functionality trends with the Digital Ceiling

Marcel Reifenberg 10.02.2020

Boost efficiency and user experience, reduce energy usage and be ready for tomorrow

Trends in WLAN connectivity

Today, we’re seeing a number of drivers changing the way in which WLAN is used. Bandwidth requirements are increasing rapidly, owing to more devices being connected to networks and more Cloud applications and mobile devices being used. The advent of Internet of Things, Wi-Fi6 and 5G will boost this even further. The current 1Gbps standard is being stretched to its limits. Applications not only need increased symmetrical bandwidth, but also require provision of data and power, to enable connected lighting, smart sensors, heating and air conditioning, for example.

Convergence is also on the rise, as more and more building systems merge onto IP networks. We see a demand for intelligent building infrastructure in which a wide range of functionalities can be managed and monitored over a converged network. By combining LAN and Ethernet/IP cabling with Wireless LAN and new generations of 60/90 W PoE and PoDL (Power over Data Line) providing up to 71 Watts of power.

IP-based building connectivity

By realising digital building automation based on Internet Protocol, high levels of standardization, availability and reliability can be provided. Just about any type of building device and system can be realised with IP, from AV and access control to fire systems and LED lighting.


In this case, the LAN offers a physical communication layer as well as Power over Ethernet capacity. Because connected IP devices use the same protocols ‘end to end’, servers, operating systems, cabling and end devices all work together seamlessly, without additional translation steps and can directly communicate to cloud applications. Another benefit is the fact that devices and components that work with Ethernet and IP technology are relatively inexpensive. Built-in protocols enhance building automation security and allow an almost unlimited number of devices to be connected. IPv6, the current Internet Protocol version can theoretically allocate some 1,500 IP addresses per square metre.* Systems can de scaled up – or down – easily to accommodate changing requirements or growth.

IP-based systems can generally be monitored and managed using a standard web browser. Notifications and alerts can be provided with texts, calls, emails. That makes it possible to keep an eye on building system performance from any location, at any time. As each device has its own unique IP address, if one device fails, it won’t immediately impact other connected devices and troubleshooting and maintenance becomes easier.  

Providing power and data both through one cable enables fast and easy moves, adds and changes possible. Devices don't need to be set up near a mains outlet and there are several options for introducing redundant power. 

The Digital Ceiling Concept

With a ‘digital ceiling’ approach, it becomes possible to provide the services building occupants and managers will need in the near future and for years to come, in a way that enhances user experience while reducing energy usage. Basically, a data/power/control network is connected throughout an entire building via an overhead honeycomb configuration offering a significant number of (powered) connection points. In this way, devices can be linked to building automation. Network switches, sensors, controls, WLAN access points and other distributed building services are simply pugged in and immediately powered and connected to the network. One benefit this offers is the possibility to use a universal building control language for apps and ceiling-mounted devices.


Power-saving technologies and applications can be introduced, such as intelligent management of building space, resources and PoE-powered LED lighting. Each LED can be controlled via its own IP address. A digital ceiling can help reduce energy costs, make maintenance and adding new devices faster and easier, lower installation and device costs, increase layout flexibility, and provide a more comfortable, healthier working environments. The digital ceiling is an open, unified platform, so building managers and application developers can continuously look for new ways of integrating functionality.

Final considerations

Integrating Nexans Fibre in a digital ceiling concept helps achieve all of the aforementioned benefits. In conjunction with the established LANactive FTTO concept, a maximum performance and flexibility of the IT infrastructure is guaranteed. The core component is the Nexans Ethernet switch, designed especially for Digital Ceiling applications, features 2x 10 Gbps SFP+ uplinks, 4x MultiGigabits access ports for connection bandwidth consuming applications and additional 4x Gigabit access ports for connecting further IP equipment such as monitoring cameras, intelligent lighting or building systems (Smart Building) are available. All access ports are featured with PoE++ with up to 90W.


Owing to the vast number of devices that will be interconnected on a single IP network, convergence, and the need to accommodate changing requirements, building managers need to make sure everything is set up correctly from the outset. We are always happy to discuss your specific situation and requirements and advise!

Über den Autor

Marcel Reifenberg

Marcel studierte Informatik an der Hochschule Niederrhein in Deutschland und schrieb seine Bachelorarbeit 2011 zusammen mit Nexans. Seitdem blieb er im Unternehmen als Teil des F&E-Teams für Advanced Networking Solutions innerhalb der Data & Telecom Business Group. Heute ist Marcel Leiter des Kundensupports und leitet ein Team engagierter Mitarbeiter, die Kundenansprüche und -projekte erfolgreich bearbeiten.

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