Office & Enterprise

Staying future-ready with PoE

Wolfgang Beier 11.05.2020

Meeting the ever-increasing power requirements of enterprise networks

Fast-growing energy consumption

The number of devices in offices and production facilities is rapidly increasing. According to figures from Statista, some 50 billion IoT devices may be in use worldwide by 2030. Networked devices, sensors and actuators in professional environments will be constantly added, exchanged and upgraded. What’s more, as the functions of zones in a building change over time, these devices will be moved around. How to meet the related power requirements efficiently, economically and flexibly?

A closer look at PoE

Today, LANs are increasingly serve as energy networks connecting an ever-increasing number of compatible devices. With Power over Ethernet (PoE), data as well as power can be transmitted over an eight-wire twisted pair Ethernet cable. Typical applications are wireless LAN access points, IP cameras and Voice over IP phones. Building Internet of Things (BIoT) offers an ever-increasing number of possible applications. Consecutive generations support higher wattages: PoE (Type 1, IEEE 802.3af), PoE + (Type 2, IEEE 802.3at) and PoE ++ (Type 3 and Type 4, IEEE 802.3bt). Today, power delivered through the latest generations of PoE six times as high as the initial PoE standard from 2003 (IEEE 802.3af).

But are performance classes in the range of 60 or 90W really necessary in office or industrial environments? The short answer: yes. Because using higher power budget offers many new possible application, such as thin clients and terminals, lighting fixtures and controllers, payment systems, IoT-connected sensors and applications, signage devices, and more.

This is partly because increasingly power-hungry devices are coming on to networks, and also because one PoE connection can be used to power multiple devices. Instead of powering a handful of VOIP phones, current enterprise networks need to provide current to (IP-equipped) devices such as workstations, large screens, LED lights and much more.

More power!

It’s important to realize that more advanced devices will require more power. A large percentage of the latest generation of wireless access points (PoE 802.11ac and 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 technology) requires more than 25.5 Watts to deliver their best performance. If there isn’t enough power, radios and USB ports can be disabled, but this hardly desirable. Sophisticated surveillance cameras with pan-tilt-zoom functionality, and high-end video displays, can require as much as 71 Watts. In traditional office applications that are currently using PoE, 30 to 60 watts of power is often used.

A new report from Navigant Research expects the market for PoE technology in digital building applications to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.9% over the next 10 years. The total value of the market is expected to reach $352.9 million by the end of 2028, up from some $101.5 million in 2019.

How can the increasing PoE demand be met with the current network infrastructure and network components? One approach is introducing FTTO (Fibre To The Office). Unlike traditional structured cabling, FTTO uses fibre optic cables in both vertical and horizontal cabling, while twisted-pair copper is used to span short distances and connect end devices. The twisted- pair patch cords with RJ45 connectors provide a standardized interface to the terminal and also provide PoE to end devices. Devices can be connected to pre-installed connecting points that follow building zones, and can be immediately connected to the network, configured and powered. Although PoE+ and higher are associated with elevated temperature in cables and bundles, this is not an issue with FTTO.

Upgrade path

Ensuring your network equipment offers high PoE levels, or can be easily upgraded to these levels, is essential to staying flexible and managing cost. FTTO networks based on Nexans switches with PoE + can be upgraded to PoE ++ Nexans iGigaSwitch 10xx family can power end devices with the latest PoE++ standard. However, PoE isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution for powering every device on the network. Depending on requirements and layouts, the power concept can be optimised to provide appropriate voltage levels in different parts of the network. Of course, our experts are always happy to discuss your specific situation and any requirements you may have!

Über den Autor

Wolfgang Beier

Wolfgang Beier is Marketing Manager at Nexans Advanced Networking Solutions and Channel Marketing Manager at Nexans Cabling Solutions as part of the Telecom & Data Business Group. Wolfgang has more than 30 years of experience in the field of active and passive system technology. During his professional career he has held various positions in Sales, Key Account Management and Marketing.

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