Office & Enterprise

Single Pair Ethernet in Smart Buildings

Rahul Rathod Mar 10, 2022

Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) is a technology which is quickly gaining interest as a solution to support the large number of facilities management devices and sensors used in Smart Buildings. This post looks at the benefits a SPE network could bring, the standards developed, and Nexans’ view on how best to incorporate SPE into your cabling infrastructure.

What is Single Pair Ethernet and why is it of interest?

Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) is the transmission of Ethernet over only one single twisted pair of copper cable. This as opposed to a traditional Ethernet transmission requiring the use of 2 (up to 100Mb/s) or 4 (from 1Gbps and more) twisted pairs of a cable that always contains 4 pairs. 

With network convergence in business and commercial buildings on the rise, the interest in SPE comes as no surprise. ‘Smart’ buildings will require a large number of internet enabled devices to monitor and manage the ‘Operational Technology’ (OT) necessary to run the building efficiently.  These devices - such as sensors, air monitors, and access control devices - typically function using low data transmission rates often less than 10MB/s, and require some sort of power supply. 

SPE is ideally suited to these requirements, supporting low bandwidth data and powering devices using Single Pair Power over Ethernet (SPoE), doing away with batteries or the need for a local power supply. All this in a compact format which can be implemented over distances up to 100m, 400m, or even 1000m in certain conditions.

Standards for Single Pair Ethernet

There are several standards to consider for SPE; the Ethernet protocol itself, the generic premises cabling, cable and connector components, and power transmission. In each of these five areas, there are variations which are intended to cater for different types of uses, taking into account the data rate required, the distances to be supported, the type of installation environment, and the power needs.

For ‘Smart Building’ applications perhaps the most interesting ones are:

  • Ethernet : IEEE802.3cg 10BASE-TIL (10MB up to 1000m)
  • Premises Cabling : Amendments to ISO 11801-1 & ISO 11801-6 currently under development
  • Cables : IEC 61156-13/14 (Permanent Links & patch cord cables)
  • Connectors : IEC 63171-1 ( ‘LC style’ copper connector)
  • Power – SPoE : IEEE P802.3bu 1-Pair Power over Data Lines (PoDL) 

You can find more details in our recent webinar. 

Nexans’ proposed SPE setup for Smart Buildings

SPE is expected to become an overlay network operating alongside, rather than replacing, the existing 4-pair LAN infrastructure. So how do you plan and provision for an unknown future which will likely require a mix of high and low bandwidth applications, high & low power requirements, in different parts of the building? Adding an additional SPE network next to the existing LAN one would be disruptive and expensive.

Nexans approach would be to have a single LAN cabling network flexible enough to adapt to future changes, and integrate SPE into this network using a cable sharing concept (see image). 

In practice it means that your SPE network will run from a SPE switch, sitting in the floor or building distributor, over the existing 4-pair horizontal link to a zone distribution box. Here the 4-pair cable is split into 4 individual pairs. Single-pair cables then cover the final distance to the OT device.

Find out more about our LANmark SMARTCONVERGE solution by clicking on the link below.

About the author

Rahul Rathod

Rahul Rathod is a product manager at Nexans Cabling Solutions responsible for LANsense, Nexans’ A.I.M solution. Rahul has an Electrical Engineering background and a Masters degree in International Business. His prior experience was related to the Power, Cooling and DCIM systems for Data Centres.

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