PoE Technology: Driving the Future of IoT Innovation

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IoT or Internet of things has completely transformed inter-device communication, remote access and control of connected smart devices, and more. Some innovative applications of IoT include smart homes, smart meters, and intelligent transportation systems. PoE or Power over Ethernet is a revolutionary technology for data and voice wired networks. With PoE, you can transfer data as well as electric power over the same cable from one device to another. There are POE-enabled devices such as POE switches which come with PoE ports and hence can be powered to supply the same to another connected device such as a low-power camera, IP phone, computer, and more. This can be done using fiber optic or Ethernet twisted pair cable such as Cat 6a onwards. PoE technology has been a boon, especially if a network passes through electrically disconnected or a remote area. Also, it saves getting external electric supplies for long-distance data, video, or voice transmissions. This post discusses PoE technology as a growth driver of IoT, its significance, and more.

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Key Components of PoE

While PoE has been instrumental in simplifying the installation of long-distance networks, newer versions of this technology are already in use, such as PoE+ and PoE++. This innovation and development of new versions is a continual process. Here are the key components of PoE technology.
  • Powered devices (PD): This device receives power from PSE over a cable. Powered devices range from sensors and cameras to computers, IP phones, and other connected devices on the network. They are designed for PoE-compatible circuits
  • Power sourcing equipment (PSE): This device supplies power or is the source of electricity. They transfer the required amount of power over the cable.
  • PoE network switches: Most network switches for commercial or industrial applications come with built-in PoE capabilities. They have both copper and fiber ports as well as PoE, and may be either managed or unmanaged.
  • Ethernet or fiber optic cables: Depending on the type of network, the power can be transferred over a fiber optic or higher version Ethernet cables. While data transfer can be bidirectional, power transfer is unidirectional from PSE to PD, over a single cable. In case of Ethernet cables, there are at least four twisted pairs bundled inside the main cable, which means there are eight strands. One twisted power carries data, while the other carries power. The other two pairs are called spare pairs. The length of these cables is adjusted according to the transmission distance. In case of fiber optic cable, a fiber media converter is used or a network switch with SFP fiber ports is used. This is done to convert the electric signals from the Ethernet cable to light pulses.
  • PoE controllers: These devices are integrated into PSEs and PDs to manage power requirements and ensure safe delivery over the cable. They use Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) or Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP) protocols to communicate and identify PDs and their power needs.

Benefits of PoE in IoT

PoE in IoT eases the installation process, saves on additional wiring and devices, and offers other benefits. Here are some of them.
  • PoE helps network engineers plan the network layout in the area without having to bother about access to electric outlets in the vicinity.
  • In an IoT network layout, there are access points which facilitate interconnections from external devices in WLAN. It actually works as a hub or interface in WLAN to transfer signals over a cable to and from routers, switches, media converters, and more.
  • PoE-enabled access points are beneficial on IoT systems because it reduces the complexity of adding or removing devices and relocating access points.
  • PoE over long distance transmissions helps reduce excess wiring lengths and in turn installation costs. For instance, in smart meters, one of the common applications of IoT, design and network engineers need to work on routing from a smart meter in a home to water treatment and supply unit, the concerned government water department, and so on. If this line needs to pass through a non-grid remote area PoE comes handy. On the other hand, in non-PoE networks, the route may be long simply because of the need for external electricity supply and access.
  • Sensors are an important part of IoT and overall modern electronics. PoE- powered sensors can be easy connected in integrated smart systems regardless of the location. A good example is surveillance systems, where PoE-enabled sensors can be fitted in small, compact spaces to check motion, occupancy, and other parameters.
  • PoE has been particularly useful over long distances, and also facilitates remote connectivity through smartphone, regardless of the distance and location. It facilitates remote activation and deactivation of devices.
  • PoE in IoT applications such as intelligent traffic management and electronic toll collection and so on, wherein PoS may be PoE-enabled to accept payments vis short-distance transfer technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC) or Bluetooth.
  • Peripheral devices such as printers and scanners can also be PoE-enabled and hence kept anywhere in a smart home system.
  • PoE has been instrumental in developing smart cities, wherein seamless and high-speed internet connectivity can be made available via public networks across roads. This is one of the areas covered in smart city projects as they encompass several segments such as multimodal transport, traffic light sensors, and more.

Emerging Trends in PoE Technology for IoT Applications

Here are some current and future trends in PoE technology expected to drive the growth of the IoT market segment.
  • High speed and bandwidth are crucial for inter-device communication among IoT devices located over long distances. With 5G already here and 7G in the offing, PoE will be a prerequisite for may devices for low-latency communication at fast speeds.
  • With high-frequency electronic applications on the rise, high-power devices such as smart displays, industrial sensors, and so on located across cities and regions will require PoE for remote access and continuous functioning without external power supplies.
  • Advanced versions of PoE such as PoE+ and PoE++ are developed to IEEE 802.3bt standards, and are capable of transferring around 100W on a single cable at a high speed.
  • PoE over long distances is necessary for networks spread through cities and regions. Most conventional PoE devices can send power up to 100 meters. However, these advanced versions facilitate powered devices such as surveillance cameras and traffic sensors to be set up in extremely remote, sensitive, or hard-to-reach areas.
  • Industrial IoT comprises connectivity and communication of industrial devices, machines, automation systems, bots, and more. All of this can be remotely accessed and controlled through apps installed on smartphones. PoE plays a role in IIoT as well in terms of the convergence of AI, operational excellence, and inter-device connectivity and communication. According to reports this market segment is expected to grow exponentially.

How Businesses Can Prepare to Adopt PoE-enabled IoT Solutions?

Businesses in expanding mode may require PoE in their networks. However, they will have to chart a plan, prepare, and execute accordingly. Here are some useful pointers in this regard.
  • First, a layout plan along with the budget needs to be in place.
  • Businesses need to check their existing network systems and their scope of expansion and scalability. In case, they have legacy copper cable systems, they can use fiber optics to blend with the existing system and expand their network speed, bandwidth, transmission distance, security, and more. This is a more affordable solution than replacing the entire network with fiber optics.
  • Assess the current infrastructure, device types, and more, so that when installing new fiber optic network devices such as switches and media converters, there are no compatibility issues. Ensure you opt for PoE devices considering the expansion point of view. Installing switches with inbuilt PoE is a great option.
  • After assessing the power requirements of your application, you can choose the right IEEE standard for PoE, such as 802.3af, 802.3at, 802.3bt.
  • Plan for network segmentation and VLAN configuration such that PoE-enabled IoT network traffic can be segregated from the remaining network traffic.
The future of PoE in IoT is bright, and this market is expected to grow immensely over the next few years, especially with further advancements in PoE technology. However, for PoE to function well, you would need the right type of network devices. Hence, ensure you source them from the right manufacturer and supplier. VERSITRON has been at the forefront of fiber optics technology for several years now. The company provides PoE-enabled media converters, industrial switches, MicroModems, and other fiber optic devices that have been successfully installed in several IoT applications.
Rich Tull

Rich Tull
R.W. Tull is the President of Versitron, a leading technology company specializing in data communication and networking solutions. With expertise in Guiding network switches and media converters, R.W. Tull has played a pivotal role in driving Versitron's success. His deep understanding of these technologies has enabled the company to provide innovative and reliable solutions to clients. As a visionary leader, He ensures that Versitron remains at the forefront of the industry, delivering cutting-edge networking solutions that enhance data communication efficiency.
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