Power and Data Transmission with Only One Pair of Wires

Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) is considered the technology of the future in industrial communication. Compared to previous Ethernet versions such as PROFIBUS or PROFINET, SPE promises data transmission at gigabit speeds - and with only one pair of wires. Even power supply can be integrated into the cable thanks to "Power over Data Line" (PODL). It is a smart, flexible, space- and cost-saving solution that enables real-time communication down to the field level.

What is Single Pair Ethernet?

Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) is a technology for data transmission within wired networks. Data cables with Single Pair Ethernet technology differ from previous solutions in that they only have one pair of copper wires. In contrast, previous PROFINET cabling requires two pairs of wires, and Gigabit Ethernet even requires four. In addition, SPE offers the possibility of simultaneous power supply using the same pair of wires. This is called "Power over Data Line" (PODL). This makes the cables slimmer and lighter, which has numerous advantages and allows for new application possibilities.

Possible Applications for Single Pair Ethernet

SPE technology originally comes from the vehicle construction industry, where space and weight savings are reoccurring topics. By now, however, other industrial sectors also want to benefit from the advantages of Single Pair Ethernet - especially where high data transmission is required. Thanks to the minimal installation effort and space required, for the first time, Single Pair Ethernet enables continuous automation at the field level - i.e., the integration of sensors, actuators and other devices. These are traditionally connected to the higher control level through fieldbus systems that are not part of the Ethernet network. Single Pair Ethernet closes this gap and is considered a key technology for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 thanks to real-time communication all the way down to the field level.

Automation pyramid with single pair Ethernet

The Advantages of Single Pair Ethernet at a Glance:

  • Slim, light and flexible cables
  • Low installation and assembly costs
  • Low purchase price
  • Conserves resources
  • Data transmission up to 1 Gbit/s (AWG 22, AWG 26)
  • Range up to 1,000 m (AWG 18)
  • Real-time communication down to the field level
  • Small bending radii for moving applications

What Types of Single Pair Ethernet Exist?

In order to simplify the introduction of the technology to users, there are numerous standards for Single Pair Ethernet. Depending on the range and data transmission, SPE is divided into different categories, just like previous Industrial Ethernet solutions:

Traditional Industrial EthernetSingle Pair Ethernet
ISO IEC 11801 CategoryData RateNumber of PairsStandardData RateNumber of Pairs
Cat 310 Mbit210BASE-T1L10 Mbit / 1000m

Cat 5100 Mbit2
Cat 5e1 Gbit41000BASE-T11 Gbit / 40m
Cat 65-10 Gbit*4
Cat 6A10 Gbit4MultiGigBASE-T1 (under development)2,5-10 Gbit up to 10 m
Cat 710 Gbit4

Single Pair Ethernet Cables from Helukabel

Cables for Single Pair Ethernet are divided into different categories depending on the cross-section and application:

Cross-SectionData RateApplication
AWG 261 Gbit 1000BASE-T1 up to 40mType A - fixed installation
Type B - flexible installation
Type C - dynamic application, e.g. drag chain
Type R - robotics
AWG 221 Gbit 1000BASE-T1 up to 40m
AWG 22 + AWG 18 (Hybrid Data + Power)1 Gbit 1000BASE-T1 up to 40m
AWG 18
10 Mbit 10BASE-T1 up to 1000m
Type A - fixed installation
Type B - flexible installation
AWG 16

HELUKABEL already has several cable types in its range that are designed for Single Pair Ethernet technology. The following items are currently available:

  • 11017748 – SPE 10BASE-T1L – for fixed installation
  • 11018067 – SPE 1000BASE-T1 – AWG26 – for drag chains
  • 11018068 – SPE 1000BASE-T1 – AWG22 – for drag chains

SPE Industrial Partner Network: A Strong Network for Technological Progress

HELUKABEL has been a member of the SPE Industrial Partner Network since 2019. This association, based in Rahden, Westphalia, is an association of companies that specifically aims to promote Single Pair Ethernet technology and advocate uniform standards. The information and exchange platform now has 52 members.

As a premium member of the SPE Industrial Partner Network and a member of the Technical Working Group, HELUKABEL plays a key role in driving technological development forward. The focus is on the development of a consistently standardised infrastructure in order to make the migration to Single Pair Ethernet as easy as possible for manufacturers and users.

For further information www.single-pair-ethernet.com or download the SPE flyer.

Badge SPE Technologiepartnerschaft
Single Pair Ethernet cable

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For further questions, please contact our expert Horst Messerer, Product Manager Data, Network and Bus Technology.