NMEA OneNet--a giant leap ahead
4/19/2021

By now most boaters have heard the term NMEA 2000, particularly if you’re buying new electronics. Essentially, NMEA 2000 is an industry standard which allows marine electronics to communicate with each other over a cable called a backbone. What’s especially useful about the standard is that it permits different brands of electronics to be connected on the common network.

Late last year, a group of electronics experts representing a broad spectrum of companies completed a new standard—NMEA OneNet. You’ll be hearing a lot more about OneNet in the months and years to come because of what it can do. In a nutshell, it is much faster and has a far greater capacity to carry information. OneNet, unlike NMEA 2000, can carry video signals such as sonar and radar.

We posed several questions to Nate Karstens, the chairman of the NMEA committee that developed OneNet, for an article that ran in a recent issue of Marine Electronics Journal. Below are excerpts from that interview that will give you an idea of what to expect.


How would you describe NMEA OneNet in 25 words or less?

NMEA OneNet is a networking technology based on Ethernet IPv6, and other internet protocols for distributing marine data on the vessel.

What is the current relationship between OneNet and NMEA 2000 in terms of how they will work together or independently to fulfill onboard functions? Do you foresee a time when OneNet will replace NMEA 2000?

Compatibility with NMEA 2000 was a requirement for OneNet from the very beginning. The OneNet standard contains a specification for a gateway between the two networks. The gateway is designed to make all NMEA 2000 devices appear as if they were really OneNet devices, and all OneNet devices appear as if they were really NMEA 2000 devices. This provides backwards compatibility with existing NMEA 2000 devices, which were developed without any knowledge of OneNet. Similarly, it allowed the OneNet standard to be developed without being constrained by the decisions made for NMEA 2000.

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