Introduction to PoE Networking Architectures
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Introduction to PoE Networking Architectures

Posted on by FS.COM

PoE (Power Over Ethernet) technology brings power, as well as data transfer, to devices such as wireless access devices, IP phones, and surveillance cameras via a standard twisted-pair Ethernet cabling in a network. PoE network can be achieved by the use of different PSE (Power Source Equipment) like PoE switches, PoE injector, or PoE media converters. Depending on these PSE, there are three main types of PoE networking architectures. In this post, they are introduced one by one.

PoE Technology Overview

PoE, namely power over Ethernet, was defined by IEEE802.3af in 2003. It is a revolutionary technology which integrates data and power on the same cables, allowing power devices (PDs) to receive power in parallel to data over existing twisted-pair Ethernet infrastructure (e.g. Cat6 Cable) without making any modifications in it. Thus, PoE technology offers the ability to simplify the network cabling, helping users to save time and money by avoiding the need for separate installation of data and power infrastructures. According to IEEE 802.3af, PoE utilizes two twisted pairs, either the unused pair or the data pair, for power transmission. The following picture shows the working principle of PoE.


PoE Networking Architectures

A typical PoE system consists of a PSE and a PD. The PSE may generally be a PoE switch (Endspan) or a PoE hub / injector (Midspan). In addition, PSE can also be PoE fiber media converter which provides power to network devices over existing Ethernet cabling and leverage the benefits of fiber. PD is usually a PoE-enabled terminal device such as an IP phone, surveillance cameras, or wireless access point, etc. Thus, there are three types of PoE networking architectures based on different PSE:

1. Endspan PoE Switch + PDs


2. Ethernet Switch (RJ45 port) + Midspan Power Injector or Hub + PDs


3. Ethernet Switch (SFP port) + PoE Fiber Media Converter + PDs



Today, the major use of PoE includes wireless access point, VoIP phones, and IP security cameras in Enterprise network. This post introduced the basics of PoE and three architecture options for PoE deployment which aims at making readers understand better. Users can choose the most proper one according to their requirement. For more information about PoE network, please contact us via or call us: +1 (718) 577 1006.

Related Article: How to Build Enterprise Wireless Network over PoE?

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