It is not unusual that some FUD
(fear, uncertainty, doubt) surrounds the introduction and adoption of
technologies. An article
in Big Think talked about the
top fears people have about future technology including autonomous AI, killer
robots and biomedical materials. As with most technologies, once the FUD is
addressed, there is more acceptance. The same can be true about power over data
As background, the National
Electric Code (NEC) is ratified every three years at the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Conference & Expo by members of the NFPA.
When the 2017 NEC was being ratified, there was a concerted effort by some
participants to portray power over data cabling as a dangerous application. Whether
the FUD they created was intended to sell elaborate testing services or expensive
polymers or market a new cabling product, it was not completely successful.
CLICK TO TWEET: Cisco and CommScope support the safety and growing interest in PoE. Wayne Hopkinson explains in this blog.
However, one of the outcomes was
the implementation of a table outlining the ampacity of different gauges of
cable and the installation count with which they could be bundled. This table could
be onerous to building inspectors who are tasked with determining the type of
signals supported in a building which was still under construction (had not yet
been occupied). This table could be bypassed by using limited power (LP)
cabling that, in effect, required elaborate testing services, the use of
expensive high temperature polymers and rendered void much of the installed
Fast forward to the most recent
NFPA Conference & Expo in San Antonio, Texas. One of the key imperatives at
the event was to ratify the 2020 version of the NEC. The latest version builds
on a discussion between representatives of CommScope and Cisco that took place
at a standards meeting. The discussion emphasized the need to demonstrate the
inherent safety of power over data cabling (also referred to as Power over
Ethernet or PoE).
Cisco and CommScope agreed to
occupy a common booth at the 2019 NFPA Conference & Expo where
Cisco would demonstrate the safety of their PoE-based switches and to give
several talks and courses on the safety and growing interest in PoE. CommScope
agreed to deliver a hands-on demonstration of large bundles of cable each
supporting the maximum (IEEE 802.3bt Type 4 [Class 8]) PoE current. Ultimately,
the goal of both Cisco and CommScope was to promote the safety aspect of PoE.
To help dissipate much of the FUD around
announced a PoE lab in Greensboro, NC to test the effects of PoE on structured copper cabling in a real-world environment with commercially
available and pre-production PoE-powered devices.