What Is Single Pair Ethernet? SPE Explained

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 ethernet cable

The history of Ethernet goes back further than most people realize. In fact, the humble Ethernet cable was invented in 1973. Since then, there have been many improvements, and computer and digital systems worldwide now use Ethernet. 

One type of Ethernet cable used over modern technology is the single-pair Ethernet. Why is this Ethernet type so popular, and what makes it different?

A Standard Ethernet Cable

Standard Ethernet cables come in various forms, but the most common is the twisted pair Cat5e. This cable has four copper wires, or two pairs, inside the cable. This forms a stable and effective data transfer medium. 

You may notice that there’s a variety of different cables, separated by a Cat number and letter. This measures how fast data can be transferred using the cable. The higher the Cat number, the faster the data transfer from the cable to the device. 

Modern Cat8 cables are capable of speeds that most devices can’t take advantage of. For those who want blistering fast data transfer rates, the Cat7 cable is the most common. For most practical applications outside of a data center, Cat5 cables are the most popular. 

Related Link: What Is a DAC Cable? Direct Attached Cables Guide


Standard Ethernet cables are great at transferring data at high speeds. They allow for local area network (LAN) connectivity. Standard Ethernet technology has existed for decades, and IT specialists understand it well. Overall, it is a safe and accessible technology to use. 

Standard Ethernet cables are easy to find and relatively cheap. They can transfer data over long distances without losing any speed or integrity. You can even attach repeaters to strengthen the signal for long-distance transfer. 


Standard Ethernet cables are complex and heavy compared to single-pair Ethernet cables. They require double the amount of copper to work. They are also more limited in their applications. They help transfer raw data and create networks, nothing else.

Due to the greater complexity, standard Ethernet cables aren’t as flexible as single-pair cables. They are also more prone to suffering breakages or damage inside the cord. When this happens, the entire network can be interrupted, and the cables must be pulled and replaced. 

If you want technology to become the vehicle of your success and place your business ahead of the competition, you need the C&C Technology team on your side. 

Related Link: What is an Ethernet Cable? Find the Best for Your Needs

Single Pair Ethernet

ethernet switch

Since we now know that the standard cable has four copper wires, we can begin to unravel what single-pair Ethernet cables are. They feature two copper wires instead of four, making a single pair instead of two. This difference comes with both positive and negative consequences.


The benefit of having a single pair of copper wires is that the weight of the cable is reduced. This weight reduction has specific applications in the automotive industry and airline industries. The cable is cheaper and less complex, making it attractive to other sectors.

Another advantage of single-pair Ethernet is that it supports PDOL or power over data line. In other words, a device can be powered by the energy sent through the cable. This works well in applications where other cords may be impossible, or space is at a premium.

Single-pair Ethernet cables are also better for protecting resources. They require less copper and plastic in their construction. This also helps to keep the cost of assembling a network with single-pair Ethernet cables lower as it is easier and less complex. 


While single-pair Ethernet cables are handy in some applications, they have drawbacks. The largest of these drawbacks is the speed of data transfer they support. Because there is only one pair of copper wires, they will never be as fast as a standard Ethernet cable

The other downside of single-pair Ethernet for home and business use is the limited range. Unlike normal Ethernet cables, which can stretch for up to 100m without any data loss, single-pair is only good for about 40m. This limitation prevents it from being the sole cable used in many buildings.

What Is Single-Pair Ethernet Used For?

Now that you’re aware of the pros and cons of single-pair Ethernet, what is it used for? While the aforementioned automotive and airline examples have been mentioned, it doesn’t end there. Single-pair Ethernet is a game changer when it comes to industrial applications and smart networks.

Whether you’re building a smart building or retrofitting one, single-pair Ethernet will be essential. The ability to transmit power over a data line is going to revolutionize automation for factories and smart networks, including autonomous vehicles. This technology is even being used to revolutionize railways. 

If you want to avoid your business being left behind in its employment of the latest technological advances, contact C&C Technology Group.

For most businesses, the implications of a technology like this are endless. The ability to power a system with the same cord that it transfers data with is changing how network structure and device integration works. 

Sensor technology is also benefitting from the inclusion of single-use Ethernet cables. Modern sensors can now have Ethernet connections that go right up to and even power the sensor itself. This allows for far better data transfer and communication between a sensor and a computer. 

Related Link: Retrofitting Smart Buildings

Industry Solutions With Single-Pair Ethernet

smart building

As the technology continues to improve, the use of single-pair Ethernet is going to increase. Integrating single-pair Ethernet into your business will open up avenues you may not have had before. A lot of the newest and best devices coming out will use single-pair Ethernet cables. 
With automation and smart networks growing in complexity and effectiveness, the future is clear. Single-pair Ethernet has been and will continue to be a game-changer in major industrial fields. Make sure you position your business to take advantage of the future and invest in single-pair Ethernet cable

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