The IEEE 802.3, for Gigabit Ethernet, and supposedly the ANSI INCITS 263*, for the Regular and Fast Ethernet, have lists of signal quality requirements, which are generally tested using the so-called Ethernet Compliance Tests.

The dogma I was exposed to during my education, is that every serious Ethernet product needs to pass the compliance tests for the supported types of Ethernet it's using. Therefore, the tests are mandatory and must be done.

However, I never found an explanation why the tests are needed. I know that the regular EMI tests are needed because the agencies responsible for spectrum regulation (should) police the spectrum. For USB, the USB logos are copyrighted and compliance tests are among things needed to get the license to use the logos.

So my question is:
If my device passes EMC tests, and my Ethernet magnetics pass isolation tests, and my Ethernet port works with a crappy 100 m long cable,
is there some sort of Ethernet police which can come and get me, if I say that my device has Ethernet port, but I did not do the Ethernet compliance tests?

Background: General answers are very welcome, but I'm particularly interested in EU and USA regulations, especially those covering medical devices.

  • \$\begingroup\$ By the way, Ethernet documents always seem to talk about ANSI X3.263, but from what I can gather INCITS 263 replaced the X3.263. The ANSI webstore doesn't even know what X3.263is. \$\endgroup\$ – AndrejaKo Jul 20 '18 at 7:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Ethernet Police disbanded in 1986, after releasing evergreens like "Every Frame you Take", "Packet in a Bottle", "Roxanne (don't put on the green LED)". \$\endgroup\$ – Marcus Müller Jul 20 '18 at 7:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Marcus Müller I'll have to write that one down! :) \$\endgroup\$ – AndrejaKo Jul 20 '18 at 7:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, maybe not the Ethernet police, but I suppose it's possible you could end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit if there were any issues and the tests were not done, especially if this is for a medical device. \$\endgroup\$ – alex.forencich Jul 20 '18 at 7:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @alex.forencich That's possibly correct, but is not a course of action which my colleagues want to consider at the moment, since the Ethernet part is not critical. \$\endgroup\$ – AndrejaKo Jul 20 '18 at 7:26

I think your starting point is wrong: you design a (medical/medical-related?) device featuring a communication (Ethernet/other) port, not an Ethernet (what?) featuring a device. Technically, from the standardization point of view, there is a sort (category) of electrical/electronic equipment having (among others) a communication ability.

First, you need to determine as tighter as possible the category your future device falls in, then, second, search for the requirements (common and/or particular) applicable/mandatory for the category (of the equipment) in the interested jurisdiction. In Europe, you could begin from IEC.

Returning to the category, ICS Number for the group "Medical Equipment" is 11.040, you can/need to certain the number deeper depending on your design, to find out the standards related to it. Try, for example, here.

After you (yourself, or consulting a specialist in that area, such as in Kema or other certification/test body) find the applicable requirements on (the category of) your equipment, such a standard very probably would be an umbrella one, i.e. it will contain references to (the requirements of) many/some other standards.

For example, it (very probably) will have (among others) a reference to EMC-related standards, including both susceptibility and emission (CISPR); EMC-related standards (typically) know nothing about Ehternet, but much about communication ports. Taste the IEC 60601 series (yes, each IEC/ISO/IEEE standard costs perceptibly).

If my device passes EMC tests,

Which tests? What are the requirements?

and my Ethernet magnetics pass isolation tests,

Nobody cares, what about the device in the scope of the requirements?

and my Ethernet port works with a crappy 100 m long cable,

Nobody cares again before the requirements on the devices are clear, for particular Ethernet PHY there is the corresponding PICS, are your implementation satisfying it?

is there some sort of Ethernet police which can come and get me, if I say that my device has Ethernet port, but I did not do the Ethernet compliance tests?

Typically and probably out of the context of a medical-related device, such a compliance could be declarative and not necessary approved by a specialized testing/certification body, well... such a police could be an angry client/community spreading out its "grounded, bad user experience" relating to your device, in a social network or forum in the internet - any is well indexed by Google and other search engines.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If you use off the shelf ethernet components, ports, PHY's, etc. Outside of any specific requirement otherwise, your compliance with ethernet spec is declarative based on the components and reference design used. But other requirements may exist. for example, in the context of compliance testing for industrial real time ethernet protocol, a 100M CAT5 cable signaling and packet drop test was required, which ostensibly tested the physical layer of your design, however they are not anywhere near the battery of tests conducted on say a new Ethernet Phy product. \$\endgroup\$ – crasic Jul 31 '18 at 20:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your customers may expect other things, including compliance with other, higher level, or aggregate standards, for example, in medical products electrical isolation is usually of importance, and a certification test may dictate isolation tests on every exposed metal surface, which would test the isolation of the ethernet jack, but not specifically in those terms. \$\endgroup\$ – crasic Jul 31 '18 at 20:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you please explain what "Nobody cares, that about the device in the scope of the requirements?" means? The "that" part is especially confusing. \$\endgroup\$ – AndrejaKo Aug 1 '18 at 6:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndrejaKo Sorry, my bad, it should be "what" instead of "that". I have edited my answer. My additional explanation is in the comments below. \$\endgroup\$ – asndre Aug 1 '18 at 17:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndrejaKo First step is to properly categorize your device (product). This is a very important step because the requirements corresponding to the category your selected can differ dramatically. For example, Ethernet per IEEE 802.3 must withstand only hi-pot 1500 Vrms AC 50/60 Hz during 60 s (this is of so called basic isolation), while in medical-related equipment it is typical to require to withstand not only AC hi-pot of 4000 Vrms AC, but also 5 kV of some IEC-shaped impulse. As you can see, the category really matters... \$\endgroup\$ – asndre Aug 1 '18 at 17:35

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