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Power To The Network

What may be the greatest inhibitor to the growth of next-generation networks that incorporate wireless access points, IP telephony, and a still-unimagined intelligent edge devices? If you guessed technological know-how or a lack of innovation, you guess wrong.

It's something much more mundane. It's the stuff that powers toasters, hybrid cars, and holiday lights -- electricity, power, plain old juice.

As more and more devices migrate to the network's edge, they need power, and that's one thing often lacking there. Yesterday's networks were built when you didn't need to think much about power outlets -- after all, what needed power aside from a PC and maybe a table lamp or two.

But today's network, and particularly tomorrow's, have devices that require much more power. IP telephones, wireless access points and more, all requires electricity, and it can be incredibly expensive to have to rewire entire buildings just to power them.

Enter Power over Ethernet (PoE). This lets electricity and Ethernet data flow over the same cable, and so lets networks be extended without having to do expensive re-wiring. (For more information about PoE, check out our feature article, Ethernet Gets Juiced).

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