PoE & PoH Technologies

Provided by CRU

The progress with technologies for delivering power over twisted-pair communications cable will spur demand for category cables in key applications.


In a June 2017 conference keynote talk, Southwire CEO Rich Stinson identified three “technology disruptors” that are poised to bring about profound changes in cable markets:

  1. LED technology
  2. Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  3. dc power distribution


The first two, LED technology and PoE are synergistic. Mr. Stinson said the global market for “smart lighting” will grow 25 times over the next five to six years. And of the various protocols and wiring technologies to be used for managing the smart lighting, PoE will have the fastest growth.

LED lighting is indeed a key application for PoE technologies, and it will help stimulate demand for cable to support PoE installations. Of course, there are other applications that will contribute to more systems and cable demand. Some, such as IP telephones, date back more than 15 years. Others, such as industrial automation, are just emerging along with LED lighting and other “intelligent” systems.

Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology has been used for almost 20 years, although early implementations were labeled “injected power,” “inline power” or other names. In the past 10 years, the technology has advanced with more products, higher power levels, and increasingly wide-spread adoption. The most recent work in this area has extended to higher power levels, above 70 W, and new cabling concepts, such as Power over HDBaseT (PoH). These advances, combined with the trends to smart buildings, industrial automation, and other Internet-of-Thing (IoT) applications, suggest strong promise for PoE implementations and associated category cable demand.

PoE: a Wide Family of Products

By 2017, the term “PoE” has come to represent several standards and families of products from many equipment vendors. Most of the connected devices installed in the past 10 to15 years use Cat-5e or higher-rated twisted-pair cable, and most are associated with web-enabled devices, such as PCs, IP telephones, video cameras, and WiFi hotspots. These applications will continue, but an even broader array of devices will be connected in the future. Examples include indoor lighting, building controls, industrial sensors and controls, and wireless network “small-cell” equipment. With higher power levels and PoH technology, connected devices can now include PCs and television sets.


Market Demand is Ramping Up

In a statement issued in May of 2017, the Ethernet Alliance cited data from market research firm Dell’Oro Group, saying that more than 700 million Ethernet switch ports and 280 million PoE devices will be shipped in the five years from 2017 through 2021. The devices will include IP telephones, cameras, lighting systems, and wireless access points. The data from Dell’Oro also indicates that 35% of Ethernet ports shipped for campus applications have PoE capabilities, and this percentage will increase to 50%. John D’Ambrosia, Ethernet Alliance chairman and Huawei senior principal engineer, said “The impact of PoE technologies cuts across multiple markets, from enterprise IT, to network operations, to home automation, and this trend looks to continue.”

In a December 2017 press release, CommScope announced new features in its automated infrastructure management software – new features for managing PoE devices. CommScope said, PoE growth trends are due to the ongoing explosion of IoT devices in the building – LED lighting systems, security cameras, wireless access points, etc., as well as the convergence of IT and building operations technology.


CommScope also offered the following data points to characterize PoE market size and growth potential:


  • A report by Grand View Research projects the global PoE market to exceed $3.75 billion by 2025.
  • A Data Center Journal article estimates that the number of PoE ports installed globally is already over 100 million.
  • Approval of the 4-Pair PoE standard [an IEEE standard specifying power levels up to 90 W] is expected next year, leading the way for an additional 45 million devices to be powered by the network.


Evolution to Higher Power

The most recently published standard, PoH, specifies power levels up to 100W. An IEEE standard currently in draft form and pending publication in 2018 specified power levels up to 90 W. This represents a substantial increase from the early use of 7-W power levels on TWP cable to run Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone systems. In a presentation at the October 2017 IWCS Conference, Anthony Tassone of UL said work on higher power levels was underway, and his paper referred to levels as high as 200 W, for running large TVs and monitors, such as those found in airports, arenas, and other public places.