R&M’s LAN trends and solutions for 2020

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Reichle & De-Massari (R&M) has presented its market outlook for 2020. Let’s take a closer look at the challenges and trends, along with the solutions. Cloud services, Fiber to the Home, 5G, IoT and smart buildings will continue to change the network landscape. More 5G phones will enter the market, driving bandwidth demand. Wi-Fi 6 access points are now available and new smartphones from manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung are Wi-Fi 6 enabled, further boosting bandwidth and backbone requirements.

LAN trends are, to a significant extent, being driven by the need for intelligent building infrastructure, in which a wide range of functionalities is managed and monitored over a converged network. This network needs to be capable of powering large numbers of remote (data gathering and processing) devices, such as sensors and peripheral equipment. Ideally, data and power are integrated – which is possible with an ‘everything over IP’ approach…

Single Pair Ethernet (SPE): uniform, application and manufacturer-independent continuous IP-based transmission
The connectivity landscape is becoming increasingly standardized and unified, with IP as a common medium for previously disparate systems. R&M, closely involved in the standardization of Single Pair Ethernet (SPE), sees this type of connectivity as a key future technology, for example in smart buildings and industry 4.0. Using SPE without interfaces to replace the traditional field bus can help realize high connection density required for the networks of today and tomorrow, and makes installation faster and easier. SPE works with 10BASE-T1 to 1000BASE-T1, offers 15 – 1,000 meter link ranges at Gbit/s transmission rates, and can supply terminal equipment with up to 50 watts with Power over DataLine (PoDL).

SPE based on xBASE-T1 protocols uses a single twisted pair for data transmission. LAN is compressed into a thin two-core cable with miniaturized connectors, making it possible to significantly increase terminal equipment connection density. IT and field bus components are integrated, installation and maintenance are simplified and the costs of material and operating expenses are reduced. Compared to traditional Ethernet cabling, this approach offers a significantly higher number of possible connection points. Connection to the LAN is done with switches either centrally in the floor distributor or distributed in the zone at the service outlets. Ethernet/IP transmits large quantities of (complex) data faster than field bus systems, allowing the collection and distribution of data from the entire network. Synergies reduce operating expenses and manufacturer-neutral standard products can be used.

‘All over IP’: an integrated approach to networking smart buildings
R&M has united LAN and Ethernet/IP cabling with related technologies such as Wireless LAN, Power over Ethernet (PoE) and Single-Pair Ethernet (SPE). The resulting ‘All over IP’ approach enables digital building automation exclusively using Internet Protocol. This provides high levels of standardization, availability and reliability, with LAN providing the physical communication layer and Power over Ethernet. IP devices and networks speak the same language ‘end to end’ and don’t need ‘translation’ between servers, operating systems (e.g. via gateways), cabling and end devices. Buildings can be connected and controlled digitally throughout. SPE is ideal for connecting large numbers of small sensors and actuators. What’s more, devices and systems that work with Ethernet/IP technology are comparatively inexpensive. The current Internet Protocol version (IPv6) can theoretically allocate around 1,500 IP addresses per square meter. In practice, there is no limit to the number of devices that can be addressed. The star-shaped topology reduces the number of connection points and improves IP networks’ operational reliability. Access controls and authentication measures incorporated in IP improve building automation security.

The digital ceiling
Cabling of smart buildings should be application-neutral and manufacturer-independent. Combining structured cabling for data networks with IP offers a perfect solution for this. ‘All over IP’ also makes R&M’s ‘digital ceiling’ concept possible. This approach extends the data network through an entire building’s ceiling in a ‘honeycomb’ fashion, making it possible to connect devices to building automation via zones with pre-installed overhead connecting points (service outlets). Real estate managers or tenants can benefit from digitization with ‘Plug and Play’ – fit for purpose, without barriers, fast and at low cost. All they need to do is plug in network switches, sensors, controls, WLAN access points and other distributed building services. PoE makes it possible to connect applications with just one cable. R&M’s contacts and connectors are ready for this. The R&M package also supports Passive Optical LAN (POLAN). This fiber optics cabling for extended systems such as airports, malls, resorts, and hotels delivers virtually unlimited bandwidth for miles.

Introduction of smart, converged networks means new energy-conserving technologies and applications can be introduced, such as intelligent management of building space, resources and LED lighting. PoE can power LED lighting throughout entire buildings, and address each LED via its own IP address. Infrastructure companies can integrate more and more devices in their systems, leveraging the benefits of a unified network.

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