The Ethernet Alliance today launched its Power over Ethernet (PoE) certification program. “Enabling swift and easy recognition of interoperable products designed to available IEEE 802.3 PoE standards, the program will elevate the user experience by minimizing market confusion between standards-based and proprietary PoE solutions,” the Ethernet Alliance said.

With analysts projecting PoE-enabled port and device shipments to reach close to 1 billion by 2021, the alliance says its PoE certification program is expected to attract strong interest from Ethernet ecosystem stakeholders. John D’Ambrosia, Ethernet Alliance chair and senior principal engineer with Huawei, 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. IEEE 802.3 standards-based PoE solutions offer predictable power delivery and greater network safety, along with the robust connectivity and interoperability the market has come to expect from Ethernet. The presence of the Ethernet Alliance logo will clearly identify products that are IEEE 802.3 standards-based and that provide the performance and interoperability assurance end users want from their PoE investments.”

D’Ambrosia commented that in the development that led to the program’s unveiling, switch manufacturers demonstrated a significant level of interest in the program. “They see the results of people using non-standard devices,” he commented. D’Ambrosia specifically pointed to the efforts of David Tremblay, technical chair of the Ethernet Alliance’s PoE Subcommittee and a system architect at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. “David has put a lot of time into this effort,” D’Ambrosia applauded.

The alliance is targeting an August 2017 rollout of the program; at that time member companies and the products that have been certified will become publicly available. Certified products will be included in a public registry, which will enable users to quickly research and identify PoE products that best suit their needs.

The logo, which is still being finalized, will indicate 1) that a product has been PoE certified by the Ethernet Alliance; 2) whether it is power sourcing equipment (PSE) or a powered device (PD); and 3) either the maximum power consumed or maximum power supplied.

D’Ambrosia emphasized, “This program is not exclusively for Ethernet Alliance members. There is a path for companies that do not necessarily have a big PoE portfolio. There’s also a path for companies that have a broad portfolio and have the ability to do their own testing.”

The Ethernet Alliance is introducing a PoE membership class, which enables companies to participate in the certification program as members and gain access to members-only benefits. Plans also are underway for a PoE certification event, to be hosted at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory in October 2017.

In a Frequently Asked Questions document hosted on its website, the Ethernet Alliance addressed the issue of why this PoE certification program is needed. “There are many varieties, standardized and non-standardized, of PoE in the market,” it says. “The IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group first standardized PoE in 2004, and introduced a higher power version, known as PoE+, in 2009. The presence of standardized and non-standardized solutions, with no visible way of distinguishing between the two types, has led to interoperability issues and market confusion. This problem will only be exasperated by the predicted shipment of approximately 700 million PoE-enabled switch ports and 250 million PoE-enabled devices over the next five years.”

To gain Ethernet Alliance PoE certification, a device will have to comply with the specifications in IEEE 802.3af or IEEE 802.3at. Among those specifications are the following.

  • 802.3af: The PSE injects between 44 and 57 volts with a nominal current of up to 175 mA per conductor using 2 pairs. The PSE emits 15.4 watts, with 13 watts available at the PD.
  • 802.3at: The PSE injects between 50 and 57 volts with a nominal current of up to 300 mA per conductor using 2 pairs. The PSE emits 30 watts, with 25.5 watts available at the PD.

You can find more information on the Ethernet Alliance PoE certification program here, and the FAQs document here.