Reversing course – single-pair Ethernet cabling is the future

For more than 25 years structured cabling systems for voice and data applications have been standardized as 4-pair, balanced UTP, ScTP or Sc/FTP cable that now supports up to 40 Gb/s on 30 meters of category 8. The driving force has been requirements for ever more bandwidth to meet a variety of customer needs.

Suddenly, interest in building automation, “smart” systems and the “Internet of Things” (IoT) is changing the scope of the next generation of cabling systems. Sensors for lighting, HVAC, occupancy, access control and other smart systems require very little bandwidth compared to typical data applications. A sensor transmits just a few bytes of data when polled by a controller or triggered by an external event. 

The lack of bandwidth required for this wave of network enabled devices has led the IEEE to develop a new ethernet protocol that is designed to operate over a single pair of UTP/STP cable. 100Base-T1 and 1000Base-T1 have been available for a few years, though the intended application was to increase total bandwidth available through existing four-pair cables in primarily industrial installations.

A new ethernet option

In March 2018 the IEEE 802.3cg Single Pair ethernet Task Force met near Chicago to continue defining the electrical requirements for 10Base-T1 (the presumed name). The Task Force expects the standard to be approved in June 2019.

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