IEEE approves PoE standard amendment

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) announced last week that it has approved an amendment to its IEEE 802.3at-2009 Power over Ethernet (PoE) Plus standard.

The significance of the new standard is that it increases the amount of power that can be carried over a Cat 5 (Ethernet) cable to 25 watts with an option of up to 51 watts.

According to Daniel Feldman, director of marketing for Microsemi, a California-based manufacturer of semiconductors, the impact of the new standard will be enormous for the physical security industry.

“With more power you can have better outdoor coverage, you can have better day and night coverage and you can have better deployment of access control devices,” Feldman explained. “We have a customer that has decided that their outdoor cameras are going to take advantage of PoE for whatever they need be it night vision, heating/cooling and they are actually taking all 51 watts that we can support.”

When the previous version of the standard was ratified in 2005, Fredrik Nilsson, general manager of the Americas for Axis Communications, said that fixed network camera market picked up significantly due to the costs savings and backup power supply options it provided to end users. What the standard didn’t do at that time, however, was give manufacturers the ability to power outdoor and pan-tilt-zoom cameras via Cat 5 cable.

“With the new (standard)… all of sudden you can use Power-over-Ethernet for movable cameras as well as outdoor cameras that you need heaters and fans for,” he said.

In anticipation of the new standard coming out, Nilsson said that many manufacturers probably already have products prepared to hit shelves and added that as with the uptick in fixed network camera sells under the previous standard, that the same thing would likely now occur with outdoor and other movable cameras. Nilsson said that the new standard should also result in reduced installation costs for dealers and integrators, which should also result in reduced costs for end users.

Another significant change under the standard amendment, Feldman says is that it clearly defines what you can do with a gigabyte midspan.

“In the original standard, you had the capability of doing gigabit PoE switches and gigabit midspans were outside the scope of the standard,” he said. “The new standard clearly specifies what is a gigabit midspan and how it should function. There were companies selling gigabit midspans and weren’t covered by any standards. If you bought a midspan before (this standard was adopted) there was no guarantee that the data would actually pass through (the midspan) and not have a scenario where you have data loss.”