What Is Single Pair Ethernet?

Single Pair Ethernet, or SPE, is exactly what it sounds like, Ethernet cable over a single pair of conductors. It’s an important advancement in networking technology today, and we’re exploring the future trends of Single Pair Ethernet.

Where conventional Ethernet data service requires four to eight conductors, SPE provides connectivity at up to gigabit speeds and a power supply for devices on only two wires. SPE utilizes PoDL (Power over Data Line) to provide power without interfering with data.

Single pair Ethernet is poised to revolutionize the networking of edge devices and significantly expand the economy of implementing the next generation Operational Technology (OT) and Internet of Things (IIoT) connectivity, including the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Advantages of Single Pair Ethernet Technology Advances

Single Pair Ethernet is still in its infancy, but the potential of this technology is clear. SPE is growing rapidly, and while industry groups and standards around this technology are new, its significant advantages make system designers eager to implement this technology.

One Network

SPE makes it possible for individual components of a system to interact with each other on the same Ethernet network as:

  • Controllers
  • Logic
  • User interfaces
  • The cloud
  • And more

This means that sensor and actuator networks can be designed to be part of the entire system network, finally updating legacy field bus systems. This single-level network also means advanced real-time data monitoring, troubleshooting, and diagnostics.


But that’s not the only advantage that comes with an SPE network. Utilizing PoDL makes it possible to design a control system without buses or independent power sources. Imagine a line of industrial machinery with sensors and actuators — each part of an Ethernet network — with no need for a power supply to each element.

Power delivery is one of the aspects of SPE that makes it competitive with wireless technologies, which still require some kind of wired power delivery for most edge devices.

Lower Cable Costs

Cable costs are lowered with simplified two-wire conductors and connectors. Additionally, four and eight-conductor cables can be used to power and connect multiple devices. Copper is expensive, but with SPE, all networking and power goals can be achieved over just two wires.

Why pay for more when SPE can accomplish what conventional Ethernet does at a lower cost?

Adds Flexibility to Cable Designs

Smaller connectivity accommodates dense switching gear and connections. Smaller cables allow more flexibility in routing and simplified installation.

SPE cabling can be installed with tighter radius bends and fit through smaller spaces. Cables that are thinner reduce the amount of plastic deformation experienced by the conductors inside. This makes SPE cables ideal for robotics and other applications where damage from physical movements or vibrations is a concern.

In the future, the advances of SPE will result in even smaller devices and reduce material costs for manufacturers.

Reduce Weight

The reduced weight of SPE cables over conventional Ethernet also provides a significant advantage in shipping and handling. While traditional Ethernet cables or a Fieldbus system may not seem like significantly heavy components, switching to an SPE network design can provide significant weight savings.

  • The weight of cables can add up. Depending on how complex or large a product is, weight savings added over miles of cables can be significant.
  • Equally important, an SPE system opens the door to smaller, lighter devices that do not require independent power supplies.

The Future of Single Pair Ethernet Technology

SPE is a new technology that was initially pioneered to meet the needs of automotive computing. But the potential advantages are huge, so it’s no surprise that the technology has continued to be advanced by major interconnect industry players and consortiums for use in OT, IoT, and IIoT applications.

Standardization has been progressing, which will allow even more innovation of compatible devices and systems. There are currently more than a half dozen published and in-process standards from IEEE, IEC, ANSI, and ISO that define several categories of Single Pair Ethernet.

We anticipate that the landscape of SPE will continue to be fast-growing and quickly changing over the next several years as this technology spawns developments to grow complex systems based on SPE.

The IoT, IIoT, and OT revolutions in the industry will be happening on multiple fronts, and Remee has the knowledge base, industry awareness, manufacturing agility, and quality control to help our customers take full advantage of everything SPE and other technologies have to offer.

Ethernet To the Field for Process Industries – An ODVA Perspective

Founded in 1995, ODVA is a global association whose members comprise the world’s leading automation companies. ODVA’s mission is to advance open, interoperable information and communication technologies in industrial automation.

ODVA is actively engaged in industry-wide efforts to promote adoption of an Advanced Physical Layer, known as “Ethernet-APL*,” for long-reach, single-pair Ethernet. Ethernet-APL enables two wire cable lengths up to 1,000 meters, potential reuse of existing infrastructure, and use in hazardous areas, which will fully open up the process industry to Ethernet. Ethernet-APL will be an important enabler of EtherNet/IP in the process.

At the field level, industrial Ethernet via Ethernet-APL will first be applied to devices with larger data exchange requirements, such as flow meters, which contain instrumentation data (e.g., mass flow, viscosity) or control valves, which contain process data (e.g., travel distance, stiction). In the longer term, devices with smaller data exchange requirements, such as simple sensors and actuators, will follow. Ethernet-APL will soon open up process operations to the higher speed and rich data afforded via industrial Ethernet based networks such as EtherNet/IP.

Ethernet-APL will use Single Pair Ethernet Technology to help move critical information from the device to the cloud for future applications with IIoT and Industry 4.0 solutions. Interest in Ethernet-APL from end users has been enthusiastic and will help drive adoption of Ethernet-APL, which will enable companies to gain the benefits of valuable additional data insights that will help drive cost savings. EtherNet/IP will be one of the key available industrial Ethernet communication networks that will run on Ethernet-APL as EtherNet/IP was originally designed for the future with a basis in IP technology.

Read ODVA’s white paper entitled “Ethernet – To the Field” which presents the case for Ethernet-APL in process plants and discusses components, topologies, the benefits, such as scalability, redundancy, handling, installation, as well as adoption, deployment, installation, and operation.

*Trademark of ODVA.

Access the Future of SPE Technology With Remee

In the same way that SPE consolidates communication into one network, Remee streamlines your supply chain by offering virtually any imaginable cable at an economic scale.

To bring your products, projects, and installations to life, you need a partner that can supply all your cabling needs under one roof. Remee is your one-stop-shop for cables. From the newest technologies for your latest R&D project to high-volume orders for large scale installations, Remee can provide cables for any project.

Remee pays close attention to the latest innovations to keep up with our client’s needs and help push their technology forward. And, Remee provides our customers with unrivaled cable manufacturing agility, quality, and economy. Ready to transform your Ethernet connectivity?

Ask a Remee expert to learn more about how we can help take your business into the future with Single Pair Ethernet technology.