Single Pair Ethernet- and why it will transform the industrial data landscape

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Written by Duncan Nicol, Sales & Marketing Manager- Device Connections

What is Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) and why is it so important for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?

SPE is the new secure Ethernet protocol using just two wire cabling and is set to become the new standard for the IIoTs. Ethernet has been the leading communications protocol in LAN applications since the 1980s. The applications have been far reaching and critical to the rise in communication networks the world over.

So why do we need a new Ethernet protocol? In recent years we have seen an explosion in the growth of internet connected devices, from TVs to cars and smart speakers. Many of these devices rely on local area networks utilising either hard wired Ethernet or wireless WiFi connectivity. While these and many other applications work well with the existing technologies, there is a need for a more compact and secure protocol especially when considering the needs of industry.

“secure communication over longer distances and with a smaller footprint”

SPE is based on a two-wire cabling protocol offering secure communication over longer distances and with a smaller footprint. These features are central to the question of why SPE is needed. As more and more devices in commercial and industrial application become “connected”, there are increased demands on space both inside the devices and in the cable ducts that connected them together. And while WiFi has it’s uses in these environments; it does not offer the security or reliability of a wired communications network.

Imagine a commercial building in today’s connected world. Everything from the lifts to the lighting, air conditioning and security are inter-connected and controlled from a central, and often, remote location. This involves miles of cabling to connect the building controls and sensors together and therefore the ability to reduce the size and weight of the cabling is a massive advantage, both financially and physically.

Each “connected” device needs a communications interface which takes up valuable space on the PCB which itself is packed with functionality and must be as small as possible. SPE addresses this need with a footprint much smaller than the equivalent 4 or 8 wire Ethernet port.

Distance is another feature that gives SPE an advantage by enabling sensors and controllers to be placed close to the action but a greater distance from the distribution panel or router.

The IIoT is set to increase dramatically in the coming years and therefore the need for a more secure, compact and far reaching communications protocol is an absolute necessary. For more on SPE and how Phoenix Contact is a leading the innovator in bring this technology to market, please visit our website.

You can also learn more about SPE in our webinars taking place on 17th September. More information and registration can be found here.

Contact Duncan on or tel: 07799 072059



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