Vendors Get Jump on POE Standard

3Com's wall-mounted NJ200 switched Ethernet hub
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3Com's wall-mounted NJ200 switched Ethernet hub
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The draft status of the POE specification hasn't stopped vendors from trotting out an array of early devices. The specification supports the Simple Network Management Protocol, and vendors of power supply equipment differentiate products by offering sophisticated management options and delivering different levels of power.

For example, 3Com's $2,495 SuperStack 3 Switch 4400 PWR provides 150 watts of power across 24 ports, while Avaya Inc.'s $4,295 P333T-PWR POE switch delivers a total of 200 watts. Those average out to 6 and 8 watts per port, respectively. By assuming that you'll need less than the full 12.95 watts per port, vendors can offer lower prices. But what if you run out of juice?

While the 802.3af standard delivers power sequentially by port number until it runs out of power, Avaya lets you reprioritize the ports, and 3Com also lets you limit power on a per-port basis. If you do max out, however, Avaya lets you boost power by adding an external power module, whereas 3Com does not. Nortel Networks Ltd. and Foundry Networks Inc. have also introduced compliant switches; Cisco plans to announce a daughtercard for its 6500 series modular switches after the standard is ratified.

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PowerDsine's 6000 series midspan devices
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PowerDsine's 6000 series midspan devices
Several vendors offer midspan equipment for about half the cost of an end-span switch. PowerDsine's 6000 series midspan products, for example, range from $99 for a single-port model to $1,199 for a 24-port device.

As for powered devices, major vendors of IP telephones and WLAN access points either claim to be shipping compliant products now or have announced plans to do so soon. One of the more interesting end devices is 3Com's NJ200 ($219), a wall-mounted Ethernet switch that runs off POE and then passes power through to one of the unit's four ports.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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