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Don Findlay 19th January 2007
For the latest news on PoE Plus, where it is and where it is going we had a talk with John McNally, Vice President of Business Development, PANDUIT. As one of the key players in the PoE market John set out clearly the current position.
In September of 2005, the IEEE agreed to begin reviewing new PoE specifications in order to enhance current Power over Ethernet (PoE) guidelines into a next-generation standard (IEEE 802.3at), commonly referred to as PoE Plus. The goal for the new standard, expected to be ratified in 2008, is to increase maximum power rating to at least 30 watts to provide greater power for evolving applications such as motorized network cameras supporting pan, tilt and zoom, IP telephony videophones, RFID readers and access-control systems, point-of-sale and information kiosks, and eventually laptops or palmtop computers.
As the IEEE continues its work on this new PoE standard, industry vendors, vying for the opportunity to take the lead on this new initiative, have begun promoting new IEEE 802.3at pre-compliant hardware and infrastructure components. However, is the new IEEE 802.3at standard causing undue concern and infrastructure worries in the industry?
To address some of these topics, Power Over Ethernet.com, had a chance to chat with John McNally, Vice President of Business Development, PANDUIT, and discuss the current state of PoE applications, how the new infrastructure will impact current networks, and his prediction for the future of this new standardization.
POE: John, thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule to speak with us.
JOHN: Thank you for the opportunity. PoE Plus is a hot topic right now, so I am more than happy to discuss this with you and your readers.
POE: There has been a great deal of press regarding the new PoE standardization. Can you quickly sum up your take on the need for the new IEEE 802.3at work being done?
JOHN: Certainly. When the IEEE created the PoE 802.3af standard in 2003, their intention was to simply define the transmission of Power over Ethernet. At the time, that standard defined nominal power delivery at about 13 watts, which is adequate for existing IP telephony, security cameras, and other network applications. Now, as customers require and as vendors offer advanced devices, the need for greater power has increased, requiring that PoE over a typical LAN Ethernet be reevaluated to meet demand. This drove the IEEE via the industry to begin work on the new PoE Plus standard.
POE: John, should organizations be concerned about updating their cabling infrastructures to accommodate this new PoE standard?
JOHN: Probably not. While the new PoE Plus standard is under development, it is very likely that when it is ratified late in 2007 or early 2008, existing Class D/Cat 5e cabling (or better) infrastructure will work in conjunction with the new standard.
POE: So if the new standard can utilize existing network infrastructures, why is there concern in the market?
JOHN: Due to higher power, heat generation in the cabling may cause an increase in the cabling core temperature. This increase in temperature has two effects. The first one is a slight increase in cable attenuation. The maximum temperature increase proposed by the standard bodies is 10 degrees C. This will affect the environment in which the cabling is installed since the maximum ambient temperature of the cabling should not be violated. Secondly, as your readers are probably aware, insertion loss increase can occur as the copper cabling temperatures rise. The TIA has informative de-rating recommendations for cabling in higher temperature environments and can be used to mitigate this temperature increase. This is typically accomplished by specifying shorter cable runs.
POE: Sounds like there is cause for concern…
JOHN: I would not say concern, but more a need to be aware of the issues when planning cabling infrastructure installation. PoE Plus will likely support two-pair power up to 30 watts and four-pair power for power greater than 30 watts. There is no substitute for sound planning and preparation, which is really important for avoiding problems down the road.
POE: How is it, then, that vendors are offering 802.3at compatible products in the market?
JOHN: At the moment vendors are jockeying to be the first to break into the market with high power PoE solutions. Some of these product offerings are from companies that are participating in the work group establishing the new standard and, as a result, may well be compliant when the standard ultimately is adopted. Until there is a definitive agreement on the new 802.3at standard, however, nothing is certain.
POE: How is your group addressing the new IEEE 802.3at standard?
JOHN: We are actively participating in the IEEE work group and in the TIA and ISO groups that are driving PoE Plus. Our goals are to help drive technology to solve customer problems and ensure that our solutions are fully compliant with released standards.
POE: I understand that you’ve recently released a new product to support PoE Plus?
JOHN: The product that we’ve recently released is the new PANDUIT® DPoE™ Compact 8 Midspan. This product fully supports the IEEE 802.3af standard and can be set via our DPoE™ Element Management software to drive 2X power for devices which require more power. Based on the current status of the IEEE 802.3at standards discussion, we believe that our product will be upgradeable to support the PoE Plus standard for 2X power when it is ratified. Customers can install the product now and download a firmware update when the new standard is released.
POE: John, Thanks for your time.
JOHN: Thank you.