13 Feb Advantages of Copper over Fiber
Much has been made of the many advantages that fiber optic cabling possesses over any other form of data transmission, but there are still some pretty solid reasons for choosing copper over fiber in some situations. Yes, fiber optics offers the potential for faster transmission without boosting the signal, it does have greater bandwidth, and is relatively immune to various electromagnetic influences that might show up as background noise on another medium. So why would anyone want to choose copper wire over this miraculous fiber?
Power over Ethernet (PoE)
Power over Ethernet is a technology which allows for both data and power to be carried over the same ethernet cable, either on the same wire or on two different wires. There are tremendous advantages to this kind of configuration, including the fact that it is fairly inexpensive to install. It also frees up any devices being powered from having to be located next to a power source – since power is provided in the same cable as the data, devices can literally be placed anywhere. This location advantage is extended to include the flexibility to re-position devices as needed.
Having power provided over the network allows for easy installation and distribution of network connections all throughout a network setup. A central source of power also means that it is reliable and can easily be controlled, for example if it becomes necessary to reset network devices. Because of these advantages, PoE is often used to power security cameras, Voice-over-IP phone systems, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices.
Fiber optics in the workplace can be great, in terms of providing that extra bandwidth, but it is still true that desktop computers are mostly equipped with copper Network Interface Cards (NICs), and to outfit them with the fiber-compatible version would be a pretty fair expense. Environments configured for Time Division Multiplexing (TDM), are built on copper infrastructures, and to substitute fiber would require revamping to include the electronics necessary to run fiber – which is also an expensive proposition.
The power which runs through an ethernet cable configured for PoE comes from an injector which injects the power into the cable. This injector is controlled and automatic, which means the power level does not vary along the length of the cable. Any network-attached devices can count on receiving the same level of power at all times, so that the devices themselves take on the same aspect of reliability and solid performance.
Availability of PoE test equipment
With the popularity of Power over Ethernet, it’s only natural that quality equipment would be needed to monitor PoE cables and devices, and some top-of-the-line equipment has been developed by T3 Innovation, for just such purposes. For example, both the Cable Prowler and Net Prowler hand-helds from T3 provide the capability to detect the presence and the class of PoE in a given cable line. The Net Prowler however, adds in the functionality of identifying and troubleshooting LAN issues associated with network conditions. Any of the high quality pieces of test equipment from T3 can be relied upon with the same degree of confidence as the PoE technology itself.