One of the most common questions regarding Ethernet cabling is: What type of cabling should I choose? There is much confusion on this topic. When choosing the right cabling solution for your particular network infrastructure, you need to know the difference between the different cable categories. The purpose of this article is to help you determine which type of Ethernet cabling suits your needs.
All three cable types use an RJ45 end, similar to a telephone jack, only slightly wider. This means that the cables simply plug into the same Ethernet jack on your computers, routers, and switches. However, each cable category option has quite different specifications. More about that later. First, let’s compare the costs of these three cable types.
What about cost?
Probably the most significant difference between Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6A cabling is the price, and price is often the biggest consideration when deciding which Ethernet cabling to purchase. Cat5e is the least expensive of the three. Cat6 is approximately 30 percent more costly than Cat5e, while Cat6A is in the range of 30 percent more expensive than Cat6. This means, if your Cat5e cabling job costs $10,000, then Cat6 cabling for the same job will cost $13,000, and Cat6A will cost $16,900.
There are a couple of other cost considerations when purchasing Ethernet cabling:
- Plenum costs about 30 percent more than non-plenum.
- Shielded cable (STP) is roughly 30 to 40 percent more expensive than unshielded cabling (UTP).
Of course, price is not the only factor to consider when choosing what category of Ethernet cabling to buy. Let’s break down each type of cabling to help you determine which is the best option for your network, for now, and for the future.
Category 5e is a high-speed enhanced version of legacy Cat5 cables and has been in use for 20 years. Cat5e cables were the first to deliver one Gigabit of network speed, which in most expert’s opinion is the least amount of speed that should be considered. If most of your network is cloud-based, Cat5e cabling may be sufficient—for the present. Cat 5e cables are typically:
- Made up of 24-gauge twisted pair wires
- Produces one Gigabit of network speed
- Offers Ethernet up to 328 feet
- Is rated and measured at 100MHz (which means the CPU can process up to 100 million commands a second)
Cat5e tends to have a slightly higher delay and skew than either Cat6 and Cat6A cabling. This means that Cat5e can give the appearance of being slower.
Category 6 cables are the current cabling standard for high-speed Ethernet networks. Cat6 cables provide the following:
- 23-gauge twisted pair wires
- 10 Gigabits of network speed
- Offers this high speed up to 164 feet—for distances over 164 feet, delivers speeds at the same rate as Cat5e cabling
- Is rated and measured at a bandwidth of 250MHz
Additionally, Cat6 offers enhanced performance levels compared to Cat5e: e.g., a tighter twist in the cables that allow for two-way communication, signal loss reduction, and less cross-talk.
The “a” in category 6A cabling stands for augmented. These cables deliver warp speeds and are used for 10G networks or when high bandwidth speeds are needed. Further, Cat6A cables are thicker than Cat6 cables as they have a thick plastic around the wires and because the pairs have a tighter twist. This provides more copper per inch, which results in less cross-talk and less signal loss.
Cat6A Ethernet cables offer the following:
- 23-gauge twisted pair wires
- 10 Gigabits of network speed
- Provides Ethernet up to 330 feet
- Is rated and measured at a bandwidth of 500MHz
Cat6A offers double the speed and distance of Cat6, which makes it an ideal cabling choice for businesses.
A Quick Word About Cat7 and Cat8
Cat7, although somewhat comparable to Cat6A, is not considered to be a good cabling choice. According to Massachusetts-based cabling company Cable Matters:
“. . . Cat7 specification is a proprietary standard developed by a group of companies. It is not an IEEE standard and is not approved by TIA/EIA. Cat7 cables don’t use the traditional RJ-45 Ethernet header (technically known as an 8P8C connector). The GG45 connector that is used instead is proprietary. Despite its backward compatibility with RJ45, these connectors are hard to come by. Cat7 cables are also compatible with the TERA connector, although that has also seen very little use in the industry.”1
Cat8 is the fastest Ethernet cable to date. It has the following features:
- 23-gauge twisted pair wires
- 40 Gigabits of network speed
- Provides Ethernet up to 98 feet
- Is rated and measured at a bandwidth of 2000MHz
Cat 8 is designed for high-speed switch to switch communication in data centers or server rooms with 25GBase-T or 40GBase-T networks.
To Sum Up
First, it is important to note that each cabling category’s transmission speeds are hypothetical and depend on all components to perform at the maximum speeds. For instance, you will never get an optimum speed using a legacy device that is not capable of attaining Gigabit speeds.
Cat 5e is the least expensive cabling option; however, it is also the slowest. It is certain that Cat5e can perform well for most of today’s applications, especially if your network is cloud-based—but leaves less opportunity to upgrade in the future.
If you need speed, Cat6 and Cat6A is your best choice of cabling. Cat6 does not provide the distance that Cat6A does; however, it is the less expensive choice. Also, choosing either Cat6 or Cat6A will help future-proof your network for at least a few years. Unless you have a 25G or 45G network, Cat 6 or Cat6A cables will be plenty fast enough for most situations.
Find out more about Versa’s Power over Ethernet technology.
1: Cable Matters: What is Cat7—and why you don’t need it.
Power over Ethernet (PoE) delivers both power and data concurrently via twisted pair Ethernet cabling. This technology improves network agility and scalability in efficient and cost-effective ways. There are several types of PoE devices, for example, the PoE switch, PoE splitter, PoE injector, etc. This article focuses on the PoE injector: What is it? What does it work? Are there different types? How is it installed?
What is a Power over Ethernet (PoE) injector?
Let’s start with a definition. PC Magazine defines the PoE injector as follows:
“A device that adds power to an Ethernet cable for Power over Ethernet (PoE) equipment. Although Ethernet switches are available with PoE capability, millions of regular “non-PoE” switches are in use and continue to be installed. . .”1
As stated above, these (also called midspan or PoE adapter) are used to make a non-PoE LAN switch port work with PoE devices. A PoE injector is ideal for low-power devices that need to be installed in hard-to-reach places where there are no power outlets available. This affords power with no impact on existing building structures at a minimal cost.
How does a PoE injector work?
These devices connect a wireless access point (WAP), PoE lighting, IP camera, or any IEEE 802.3af, IEEE 802.3at, and IEEE 802.3bt-powered device (PD) to a network switch. Power is then “injected” into an Ethernet cable. Typically, a PoE injector converts AC to DC to power these low-voltage PoE devices.
A PoE injector usually has two RJ45 ports, one labeled Data In and one labeled PoE/Data Out. Following is an overview of what each of these ports does.
Data In port
Let’s use the example of an IP security camera. The Data In port connects the security camera to the local network, the NVR camera port, or a network switch. If this port is not connected to the security camera, the local network is unreachable.
PoE/Data Out port
This port has two functions: 1) It delivers power to the IP security camera, and 2) it completes the network, so data is transmitted successfully. If this port is not connected to the security camera, it will not power up and will not connect to the NVR/network.
Setting this up usually requires three devices: 1) a connection to the network (E.g., a router or a switch), 2) the PD, and 3) the PoE injector itself.
Are there different types?
Active PoE Injector
Conforms to the PoE standard of IEEE 802.3af, IEEE 802.3at, or IEEE 802.3bt is considered to use active PoE. During the initial handshake, if the PoE injector does not receive the proper acknowledgment, it will not power up, ensuring the device’s safety. The typical 802.3at/af/bt PoE voltage is 44 to 57 volts (V) DC.
Passive PoE Injector
Adopts PoE technology that does not conform to the 802.3at/af/bt standard is considered to use passive PoE. Generally, passive PoE devices run on 18 to 48 volts. It is important to note that it may likely cause permanent electrical damage to the device if the wrong voltage is connected.
12 Volt, 24 Volt, and 48 Volt PoE Injectors
Depending upon the output power voltage a PoE injector supplies, it is put into one of three types: 12V, 24V, or 48V. The voltage of a PoE injector must be taken into account as its voltage and the voltage standard of the PoE device must be compatible.
In addition, they can also be typed by the number of ports they have (e.g., one-port PoE injectors, eight-port PoE injectors, etc.)
How do you install a PoE injector?
Let’s continue to use the example of an IP security camera. There are six steps to follow:
- You will need the following equipment: an IP camera, a PoE injector, a standard network switch, and Cat5e, Cat6, or Cat6a Ethernet cabling.
- Test to make sure the IP camera, PoE injector, and the IP camera’s management work properly.
- Make sure all video and network configurations are made before mounting the IP camera.
- Plug the Ethernet cable into the PoE injector’s PoE/Data Out port, then connect the other end of the cable to the IP camera’s PoE port.
- Mount the IP camera where there is adequate light to ensure it can capture a clear image on the screen.
- Plug another Ethernet cable into the PoE injector’s Data In port, then connect the other end of the cable to the Ethernet switch.
- Plug the PoE injector’s power cord into a local AC outlet.
How does a PoE injector benefit you?
There are three major benefits:
- Easy installation: A simple play-and-plug solution to your PoE needs.
- Flexible network expansion: PoE injectors add PoE capability to non-PoE switches, thus extending the network distance. Also, the use of Ethernet cabling allows for better end device connections.
- Saves time and money: With a PoE injector, there is no need to perform the labor-intensive task of running both data and power cable from the network switch to the PD. PoE is fast and cheap—saving both time and money.
What things should I consider when purchasing a PoE injector?
When you are ready to purchase, make sure you have thought about the following three things:
- The number of PDs: If there is only one PD, a PoE injector with a single port will do. However, if there are several PDs, make sure you have a sufficient number of ports.
- PoE port power supply: The PoE injector’s PoE standard must conform with the PD. There are three primary PoE standards—802.3af (PoE) supplies power up to 15.4 watts (W); 802.3at (PoE+) supplies power up to 30 W; and 802.3bt (PoE++) supplies power up to 100 W.
- Power supply voltage: Just as with the PoE power supply, the PoE injector’s voltage must be compliant with the PDs. This compliance will prevent overloads or operating issues.
A Last Word
Versa Technology has a line of high-quality PoE injectors that will enable you to couple non-PoE power sourcing equipment (PSE) with PoE PDs.
Contact us Contact us. We will be happy to advise you as to which PoE injector is best for your project.
Since the mid to late 1990s, the standard for structured cabling systems for voice and data applications has been four-pair, balanced UTP, ScTP, or Sc/FTP cable, which these days supports up to 40Gbps on 30m of cable. This standard meets the myriad of bandwidth needs of users.
With the explosion of the IoT and the push toward smart systems, we suddenly have low-speed devices that require very little bandwidth—things like sensors, actuators, and relays, as well as access, occupancy, and lighting applications. As a result, operations technology (OT) professionals cried out for a simpler, low-cost, space-efficient cabling alternative for these low-speed use cases.
In response to this need, the IEEE (in November 2019) approved the 802.3cg single pair Ethernet protocol. This specification lengthens the reach of the Ethernet physical layers at the low end of the bandwidth spectrum. Single pair Ethernet (also called “twisted pair” or SPE) is a cable configuration that:
- Uses one pair of wires
- Channels data at speeds of up to 10Mbps
- Supports up to 52W of power
- Covers distances up to 1,000m
Also, the IEEE 802.3cg standard is compatible with the existing Ethernet standards. It maintains the same packet format, size, temperature, and emission standards. It supports auto-negotiation between endpoints on point-to-point links, and it supports PoE.
IEEE 802.3cg specifications call for two link-layer standards: 10Base-T1S and 10Base-T1L. Both standards support speeds up to 10Mbps over a single twisted pair.
The 10Base-T1S, also called 10SPE (10Mbps Single Pair Ethernet) standard is for networks that do not require high data rates. The “S” stands for short-range.
10Base-T1S employs a multidrop configuration in which each node connects to a single cable, which eliminates the need for a switch and calls for fewer lines. Each cable uses only one pair of wires, instead of the traditional standard of four pairs. This single pair connection can even be installed on a printed circuit board.
The 10Base-T1S protocol specifies the following:
- At least eight nodes must be connected; however, the connection of many more is possible.
- A range of 25m with 10cm stubs to each node.
- All nodes share the 10Mbps bandwidth.
- Operates using one of the following two methods: 1) the collision detection method (CSMA/CD), or 2) the PHY-Level Collision Avoidance (PLCA) method.
A Few Words About PLCA
According to the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers, PLCA is:
“A new generic reconciliation sublayer, defined within 802.3 clause 148, meant to achieve deterministic performance out of CSMA/CD for half-duplex, mixing-segment (i.e., multidrop) networks featuring a low number of nodes.
“CSMA/CD exhibits random, unbounded latencies (due to possible collisions) which preclude using Ethernet in many Industrial, Automotive and Automation Control use cases, where determinism is required. PLCA provides a guaranteed maximum latency along with improved throughput and access fairness, effectively overcoming these limitations.”1
10Base-T1S technology has a variety of applications in many sectors. Here are a few:
- Industrial settings: This technology is used to supply connectivity to devices such as temperature sensors, voltage monitors, fans, and even simple devices such as switches, buttons, and indicator lights.
- Automotive: Cars and trucks have various sensors that require low bandwidth that benefit from this type of network architecture.
- Computing: The computing world can utilize this technology to configure and monitor large servers. It is also used for intra-system management interfaces that are inside servers and switches. Further, much like industrial applications, computers have devices such as fans, temperature sensors, and voltage monitors that can be accessed via Ethernet.
10Base-T1L is the long-range 802.3cg option that is designed for IoT and industrial applications. The “L” stands for longe-range. This technology has a range of up to 1,000m to accommodate large warehouses and factories. The 10Mbps is adequate to gather information from industrial sensors and control and monitor industrial machines’ variety.
10Base-T1L shares all the short network version (10Base-T1S) benefits—that being compatibility with four-pair Ethernet, a lower weight and space requirement, and cost-efficiency.
Many applications require low bandwidth and seamless Ethernet connectivity that single pair Ethernet provides. Here are a few examples:
- Process automation
- Building automation
- Factory automation
- Energy supply
- Waterworks automation
- Wastewater treatment automation
Advantages of an Ethernet Solution
Single pair Ethernet has many benefits. It simplifies connections between industrial and corporate networks. It is one-fourth the weight of a four-pair cable, takes up one-fourth of the space, and is considerably cheaper.
One of the single pair standard’s main benefits is that it removes the need for complex and power-hungry gateways for enterprise, control, and field-level process in process automation. Fragmented field bus infrastructures often create “data islands” that result in limited access to field-level devices. By removing these gateways, the complexity of these legacy configurations is considerably lower, and the problem of the data islands they create is gone.
Another advantage is that communicating with a 10Base-T1S or 10Base-T1L enabled device requires a host processor with integrated MAC, a passive media convertor, or a switch with 10Base-T1S(L) ports. No additional software, customized TCP/IP stack, or special drivers are needed.
Single Pair Ethernet technology is helping to expand the use of Ethernet into new applications. It’s key features include:
- Multi-drop physical layer
- Efficient use of bandwidth
- Deterministic and low latency
- No collisions
- Built-in security mechanisms.
According to Christopher Diminico, president of MC Communications:
“The single pair Ethernet standards are poised to provide a unifying communication protocol, a common networking infrastructure, and power for the evolving sensor technologies that will extend the cost-effectiveness and plug-and-play simplicity of Ethernet to all corners of the wired world.”2
10Base-T components are now just coming to the marketplace—and new devices are being designed to implement this new technology. With the apparent advantages of this technology, compatible equipment will continue to uptick now and in the future.
To learn about Versa Technology’s portfolio of Ethernet products, visit here.
1 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: PLCA FAQ pdf
2 Cabling Installation Maintenance: Single Pair Ethernet Data and Power for the Wired World
The Leading Educational Technology Trends for 2021 and Beyond
The digital revolution has significantly impacted the way we learn. In fact, one of the fastest-growing markets for new technology is education. Grand View Research1 reports that the education market was valued at $76.4 billion in 2019 and will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.1 percent from 2020 to 2027.
Education is embracing the digital revolution in a big way. Today’s learning environments strive to be dynamic and creative. To accomplish this, schools and universities rely heavily on digital infrastructure and tools.
Ed Tech incorporates many of the most popular digital devices available on the IoT. Let us take a look at some of the current trends in education technology.
The traditional teaching model goes like this: the teacher enters the classroom, lectures for about 30 minutes, then the students leave when the bell rings. However, technology has made it possible for teachers and students to stay connected. Devices such as smartphones, laptops, notebooks, and tablets enable teachers and students to interact more often. Pupils can team up, discuss classwork, and solve problems because of this increased connectivity.
Instructors are much more available to answer questions and mentor their pupils. And not only is the class subject taught, but this type of collaborative learning builds the student’s interpersonal skills as well.
More than ever before, education focuses on the welfare and continual improvement of each student’s learning experience. Some of the primary goals in the education sector are to use digital transformation to help accomplish the following:
- Decrease student dropout rate
- Increase student retention
- Improve student performance
- Reach a broader sector of students
Greater Access to STEM
Schools are particularly emphasizing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curricula. Digital technologies are increasingly being used to tackle subjects like robotics, coding, and programming.
Because the coronavirus pandemic has closed schools, K-12 remote learning is the norm in many places worldwide. Vendors are providing schools with free or discounted access to remote learning resources.
With the increased use of Ed Tech, cyber-security and digital privacy for students have become of utmost concern, specifically SaaS architecture and engineering and OAuth risks. There is a strong push to improve existing products’ effectiveness and create new ones to help manage student data and protect their privacy.
A new teaching trend is called “flipped learning.” This approach does just as the name suggests by turning traditional teaching methods upside down. In a flipped classroom, pupils use videos and other digital educational technologies at home and then go to their physical classroom to complete their “homework” under a teacher’s supervision.
Augmented reality (AR) is one of the hottest technology trends right now. 5G devices and smartphones are on the way and will bring AR to the classroom. AR enhances learning and even provides a student with the opportunity to create their own content.
There are various AR tools and apps on almost any subject, making the academic content immersive and enjoyable. Educational AR technology aims to promote such 21st-century skills as creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking, analysis, coding, and iterative testing.
Another immersive technology trend for the classroom is virtual reality (VR). Gone are the days of students sitting passively at desks trying to learn. With VR, students can travel and explore the world. And recent improvements to this technology has made it seem less gimmicky.
Terry Heick, founder, and director of Teach Thought states:
“Through the use of digital technology, virtual realities can be designed precisely for human interaction for very specific reasons to create experiences not otherwise possible.”
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has gathered quite a lot of momentum and will continue to do so in the future. In a lead-up to a deep-dive on the AI market in the US Education Sector, Research and Markets states forecast for growth at “47.77% during the period 2018-2022.”
Educators use this technology as virtual mentors and teaching assistants to personalize students’ learning processes and improve grading systems.
Internet users generate about 205 quintillion bytes of data each day.2 Organizations use big data systems to collect, store, and analyze vast amounts of information to gain valuable insights into their operations. Likewise, educators can use this type of data to discover further just how children learn. The big data technology trend in education is being used to create new teaching models, such as digital learning and customized curricula.
Massive Online Open Courses
Because of the increase of mobile computing devices, along with affordable and reliable bandwidth, the e-learning market and particularly massive online open courses (MOOCS) are positioned to become a multi-million dollar market in coming years. The success of MOOCS has been so dramatic that universities are forging tie-ups and partnerships that make their mainstream program available online.
SCORM and xAPI
Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and xAPI (also known as Tin Can). are “communication protocols for tracking learning-related activity. They provide a framework and structure to pass data and information between learning content and technologies.” 3
Both Scorm and xAPI have become dominant standards in the e-learning industry and will continue to have broad adoption.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is replacing items like chalk and chalkboards, and even pencils in the modern classroom. There are interactive whiteboards, and an ordinary smartphone with an internet connection supplies students with tons of educational information and e-books.
The Internet of Things has been a godsend for education. IoT enables cutting edge concepts such as flipped classrooms, online courses, integrated mobile technology, and immersive, creative, and efficient teaching methods. IoT-enabled connectivity replaces pencils, paper, chalkboards, and hard-copy textbooks.
Equally important, IoT is vital to a secure and comfortable school campus environment. It provides necessities like security via smart cameras, climate control through smart HVAC systems, smart lighting systems, and much more.
To read further about Power over Ethernet (PoE) for smart academic institutions, click here.
A Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch is a useful device that provides electrical power and data transmission for connected network devices. PoE effectively eliminates the need for a separate power source to power an ethernet switch. There are a variety of styles, sizes, and types of PoE switches available. There are two main styles: commercial and industrial. Commercial and industrial switches can vary in port size, unmanaged, and managed Ethernet switches. It is essential to choose the right PoE switch for your needs. Here are five reasons you need an Industrial Ethernet Switch.
1. Power and Transmit Data Across a Network
Industrial PoE switches provide power for a network and enable network communication through a single ethernet cable. Industrial ethernet switches are an effective way to connect a network in a variety of industrial settings where a reliable and stable connection is crucial. Industrial ethernet switches can be used to power networks of all sizes.
2. Durability and Longevity
Industrial ethernet switches are durable. They can withstand a broader range of extreme temperature variations in comparison to standard commercial ethernet switches. Commercial Ethernet switches typically work best in a temperature-controlled environment without exposure to moisture. Industrial ethernet switches are often able to operate in extreme temperatures from about -40°C to 75°C. These durable switches are designed to withstand the elements and can withstand harsh weather.
3. Noise Reduction
Industrial Ethernet Switches can support twisted wire and fiber optic cables. Twisted wire cabling is the most common type used and is sufficient for distances up to 100m. However, many industrial situations require fiber optic cabling instead. Fiber optic cabling can achieve a longer range of connectivity. High amounts of electrical noise can interfere with reliable network connectivity. Fiber optic cables are particularly beneficial for networks in environments with a great deal of electrical noise.
4. Unmanaged Industrial Ethernet Switch for Simple Networks
Unmanaged industrial switches are a good fit for rudimentary, low-priority networks. AETEK unmanaged industrial ethernet switches can provide connectivity for five to ten ports. Unmanaged Industrial PoE switches are capable of basic packet filtering. Unmanaged switches are also a good choice for connecting several switches. They tend to cost significantly less than managed switches.
5. Managed Industrial Ethernet Switches Provide Advanced Capabilities
Managed Ethernet switches perform all the same functions as non-managed Ethernet switches; in addition to the essential PoE functions, managed ethernet switches provide advanced network management tools. Some of the benefits of a managed industrial PoE switch are:
- Improved traffic filtering
- Network topography and device mapping
- Network management, troubleshooting, and cable diagnostics
- Industrial Protocol Management (Ethernet/IP, Modbus TCP, SNMP)
- Enhanced network security
Managed Industrial PoE switches offer enhanced traffic filtering by incorporating IGMP filtering protocols to direct multicast packets to the appropriate port. They can forward a variety of packets to specific devices more efficiently, which results in improved determinism and a quicker communication rate across the network. Device Management System (DMS) software can provide a visual of the network topography, which can make troubleshooting and network maintenance more straightforward, this is particularly beneficial for large, complex networks. The DMS in managed industrial PoE switches also makes it simple to monitor the system, troubleshoot, and diagnose network problems.
The DMS software can show packet transmission rate, individualized port settings, spanning tree, Quality of Service (QoS), Layer 2 switching, Layer 3 switching, VLAN grouping, and other aspects of the network. Managed switches contribute to the overall network security by enabling you to fully control the port settings, hinder unauthorized access, and protect the data moving through your network. Managed switches provide advanced network management tools that allow you to control your network.
AETEK industrial ethernet switch, H70-044-60, is a managed switch featuring four ports for 60W PoE, two ports for SFP, and two ports for J45 L2. It also comprises an advanced, internal DMS software. It contains 6KV PoE surge protection and a power budget of 240W. The AETEK H70-044-60 managed industrial ethernet switch is an excellent choice for powering, connecting, and managing IP surveillance camera systems.
It’s essential to consider the purpose, environment, and usage of your network before choosing which type of ethernet switch is rights. Industrial ethernet switches provide many of the same benefits as commercial PoE switches; however, they are much more durable than their commercial counterpart. Industrial Ethernet switches are designed for maximum durability and can withstand harsh elements and extreme temperatures. Industrial ethernet switches can support twisted wire and fiber optic cables. Selecting the right type of cable for your network is a critical way to reduce electrical noise interference.
Industrial ethernet switches are available in unmanaged and managed types. Unmanaged switches will provide power and network connectivity and a limited amount of packet filtering, this type works well for simple, low-priority networks. Managed industrial PoE switches are appropriate for high-priority or complex networks that require close monitoring, troubleshooting, and advanced management features. Industrial Ethernet switches provide durable and reliable power and connectivity to networks in a variety of environments.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to bring tremendous innovation; it also brings new challenges. These innovations and challenges are most apparent in today’s manufacturing landscape.
Factories worldwide are increasingly shifting to the connectivity of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to supervise their manufacturing operations more closely. While this digital transformation brings significant efficiencies, it also brings the potential for security risks. Devices with sophisticated operational abilities are a primary target for bad actors looking to attack the global supply chain.
Many major manufacturing companies have been victims of cyberattacks. Here are a few examples:
- The New York-based manufacturer, OXO International, uncovered a breach that took place between June 2017 and October 2018. The company discovered malicious code on its website designed to steal customer data such as payment card information and addresses.
- Visser Precision, a space and defense manufacturing company, suffered a DoppelPaymer ransomware attack around April 2019. This type of ransomware encrypts and removes data and is believed to have originated in Russia. Research of the episode revealed that sensitive non-disclosure agreements with Tesla, SpaceX, and General Dynamics were stolen and published on hackers’ websites. In addition to the non-disclosure agreements, the hack included a schematic for a missile antenna from Lockheed Martin.
- In 2017, the Renault-Nissan company sustained a WannaCry ransomware cyberattack at four of their European plants and one plant in India. All automotive production was halted in these plants for three days at the cost of $400 million.
According to the IBM report entitled X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2020 :
“Operational technology (OT) attacks surged 2,000 percent year-over-year. Threat actors continue to shift their sights to attack vectors, including IoT, OT, and connected industrial and medical systems.”1
Further, Sikich’s 2020 Manufacturing and Distribution (M&D) Report published the following statistics:
- Two-thirds of the companies in their study reported the use of connectivity/IoT.
- Thirty-seven percent of the companies took a variety of actions to enhance cybersecurity.
- Forty-five of the companies experienced cyberattacks within the last 12 months.2
Industrial IoT Threats
The IIoT has markedly improved the service delivery and productivity of industrial enterprises. It is also true that anything connected to the internet is susceptible to cyber threats. Some of the most vulnerable operating systems include:
- Industrial control systems (ICS)
- Programmable logic controllers (PLC)
- Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)
- Human-machine interfaces (HMI)
Cyberattacks That Focus on IIoT Infrastructure
- Man-in-the-middle: Attackers place themselves into communications between two systems. In an industrial setting, the goal could be to control a smart actuator, knock an industrial robot out of its lane, or change its speed limit, damaging an assembly line and even injuring workers.
- Device hijacking: Simply put, the attacker takes control of a device. For example, a hijacker takes control of a meter and uses it to launch ransomware attacks against an Energy Management System (EMS) or siphon unmetered power lines.
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS): This type of attack shuts down a machine or network by inundating it with traffic. DDoS attacks can affect a broad range of IIoT devices, causing severe disruptions to the factory floor.
- Permanent Denial of Service (PDoS): A PDoS attack damages the target device so severely that it needs replacement. An example of this type of malware is BrickerBot—used to exploit hard-coded passwords in IoT devices—which disables vital equipment on a factory floor.
IIoT infrastructure should be simple, workable, and, of course, secure. Security solutions should include the following:
Secure boot is a security mechanism that only uses cryptographic code signing techniques to ensure that a device executes code generated by its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or another trusted party. This technology subverts attacks by preventing hackers from replacing firmware with malicious instruction sets. It is important to note that not all IIoT chipsets come with secure boot; therefore, it may be necessary to make sure an IIoT device communicates with authorized services.
Mutual authentication, also called two-way authentication, ensures that data originates from a legitimate device. With this process, both the device and service must exchange and verify each other’s identity.
Data that travels between a device and the cloud must be secure. The utilization of encryption ensures that only those with a decryption key can access transmitted data. For example, a smart actuator sending data to the SCADA must be able to prevent eavesdropping.
Security monitoring involves surveilling the general state of an industrial system—particularly endpoint devices and connectivity traffic. Data is collected and then analyzed to expose potential security threats. Should a threat be detected, a wide range of actions are initiated, such as revoking device credentials or quarantining an IoT device. This automatic monitor-analyze-act cycle can happen in real-time or at a later date.
A lifecycle management program focuses on the critical technology in an industrial setting. It identifies outdated operational devices that are not capable of being updated or secured. It allows a manufacturer to know when devices are at the end of their lifecycle and need to be replaced. An essential part of lifecycle management involves secure device decommissioning, which makes sure devices cannot be repurposed and connected to a service without authorization.
Building Cybersecurity in the Smart Factory
Sid Snikin, vice president of cybersecurity for ARC Advisory Group, told the EE Times:
“Everyone wants access to everything: devices and data stores and applications in the cloud. The whole idea is to leverage this connectivity of devices to do new things you haven’t even thought of yet. But all these connections are opening up new security holes, which can mean potentially compromised operations because from a security perspective, you don’t know where data is coming from or where it’s going to on the other end.”3
According to Justin Fier, director of cyber intelligence and analytics at Darktrace:
“Before implementing Industry 4.0 technologies, you need to know what the security ramifications are. But we tend to deploy Industry 4.0 technologies first, and then security as an afterthought.”4
As IIoT devices continue to populate the factory floor, cyber risk will continue to increase. Manufacturing enterprises must embrace an integrated cyber management program that involves both OT and IT in the identification, protection, response to, and recovery from cyberattacks.
According to Deloitte US, here are some steps to consider taking when building an effective cybersecurity program:
- Perform a cybersecurity maturity assessment
- Establish a formal cybersecurity governance program that considers OT
- Prioritizes actions based on risk profiles
- Build in security5
Interested in learning more about LED lighting system security? Click here.
1 IBM: X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2020
2 Sikich: 2020 M&D Report
3 EE Times: AI on the Factory Floor Challenges Cybersecurity
4 EE Times: AI on the Factory Floor Challenges Cybersecurity
5 Deloitte: Cybersecurity for Smart Factories
Technology Solutions: Getting Your Small Business Back to Normal
2020 has been quite a year!
The global pandemic has changed every sector of our society, and small businesses have been significantly impacted. Because of the recent approval of COVID-19 vaccines, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, we are not out of the tunnel yet, so 2021 will continue to be a time of transition and evolution. Some things will stay the same. Power over Ethernet (PoE) continues as a technology backbone of IT networks supporting small business priorities and the development of IoT.
In 2021, however, those small businesses that can not participate in digital transformation and the technology involved, will not keep up. According to Businesswire:
The corona pandemic will only accelerate these trends as organizations look to leverage technology to manage through the crises and better position themselves for the eventual recovery. At the core of these developments are what are collectively called 3rd platform technologies, comprising cloud, mobile, social, and Big Data technologies, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), AR/VR, blockchain, 3D printing, robotics, and next-generation security technologies.
The technologies listed in the Businesswire quote above, particularly when combined, are significantly changing how we make our money. In this article, we will take a look at some of these trends.
Forrester predicts that in 2021, companies will step up their digital transformation. Users need all crucial work data available on any device at any time. It is imperative that small businesses continue to adopt collaborative software, customer relationship management (CRM), and other software applications that users expect on their devices.
- Small businesses need to be looking for client-facing technologies that directly impact customers. Here are some examples:
- Zocdoc is an app that enables you to find a doctor in your insurance network and get a same-day appointment.
- Restaurants are implementing digital menus and touchless payments. Chipotle has gone as far as to launch the first digital-only restaurant.
- Electronic payments highlight the value of digitization as businesses get better access to customer information and census data.
Robotics and Automation
When you think of robotic process automation (RPA), you may conjure up visions of metal and lasers. However, RPA is not Star Wars; at its core it is a piece of robot software that reduces the number of repetitive tasks a user needs to do to a computer by imitating those actions.
RPA tools can get rid of routine tasks, such as timecard management or data entry. This technology frees up employees to engage in activities that increase productivity.
Researchers at Forrester predict that the RPA market will grow from $250 million in 2016 to $2.9 billion in 2021.
These days and clearly into 2021, customers go to digital-purchasing first—buying everything from groceries to furniture and even cars online. Here are four cardinal rules to follow if you want to succeed in this arena:
- Keep it personal: Customer’s needs and interests must be paramount.
- Use Chatbots to increase customer contact: Even though chatbots are not human, with the right tools, your customers can still feel their interaction was personal.
- Use cloud-native software for remote working: The pandemic has taught us we can work almost anywhere. Cloud-native software makes work easier for your employees and can also improve customer engagement.
- Focus on mobile integration: Customers love to cuddle up and do business from their phones. According to Statista, by the end of 2021, almost 73 percent of eCommerce sales will be made from a phone.
Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Extended/Mixed Reality
Let’s start with a definition. According to IDTechEx:
The basic definition of these terms are as follows:
- Virtual reality (VR): this replaces reality with a completely new 3D digital environment.
- Augmented reality (AR): this overlays digital content on top of the real world.
- Mixed reality (MR): adds superimposed digital content that superficially interacts with the environment in real-time.
In 2021, reality tools will play a larger role in education, healthcare, commercial, and industrial settings as companies continue to engage with their customers.
IDTechEx also points out that with the limiting of physical interaction due to COVID-19, virtual communication and interplay will be the norm for many years. They predict that the market will be $30 billion by 2030.
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services over the internet. These services include analytics, databases, intelligence, networking, servers, software, and storage. The cloud benefits are numerous and include cost reduction, efficiency, data security, scalability, mobility, disaster recovery, and control.
After some softening in public cloud revenue growth rates in late 2019, the pandemic turbocharged the market by mid-2020, and Forrester now predicts that the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow 35% to $120 billion in 2021. Alibaba will take the number-three revenue spot globally, after AWS and Microsoft Azure. Buckle-up—the cloud ride is taking off . . . again.
The need to protect information confidentiality is paramount and will be a continuing concern for small businesses in 2021. With privacy-enhancing computation, organizations can share data discretion. Privacy-enhancing computation features three technologies that protect data while it is in use. The first technology provides a safe environment where sensitive data can be processed or analyzed, while the second processes the data in a decentralized fashion. The third encrypts the data for transmission.
Small business owners are beginning to realize that big data and the associated technology is not just for large corporations. This term describes the large volumes of information that a business creates while performing its normal operations. Disorganized, raw data is not very useful, however, if this data is cataloged, it becomes easily searchable, and a business can obtain a wealth of information that will give it an edge over its competitors.
The need for big data has been amplified by the pandemic and will be a business trend for 2021.
According to Statista, by the year 2025, there will be 2.61 billion 5G subscriptions. If your small business is not currently taking steps to prepare for this fifth-generation wireless technology, you better get on board. 2021 is the year the first real-life 5G use cases will go into production, and many 5G-capable devices will hit the market.
Ecommerce, omnichannel, and brick-and-mortar businesses with an online presence will benefit significantly from this ultra-speedy technology. 5G will also allow small companies to add more IoT devices, such as alarms, printers, shipping trackers, and inventory control tools.
What other small business technology trends will 2021 bring?
This may not seem like the best time to make business transformations for the future. Indeed, the next several months will not be easy, but with the vaccines now being administered, the end of this horrible pandemic could be near.
Per a recent McKinsey study, it seems likely things for our globe will be back to normal by quarter three of 2021. Now is the time to think about not just how your small business will survive the next few months, but how you can position your company to thrive in the next ten years.
Find out more about Versa Power over Ethernet Technology.
The latest generation of Wi-Fi is Wi-Fi 6 (IEEE 802.11ax), which launched in the fall of 2019 and is now inching into the commercial market at a steady pace. In addition, we will soon be seeing Wi-Fi 6E, the first amendment of IEEE 802.11ax to support the state-of-the-art 6 GHz radio spectrum band. Even with all this new technology in the works, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)—which develops Wi-Fi engineering standards—and the Wi-Fi Alliance—which certifies Wi-Fi technology—are in the process of planning for the prospect of Wi-Fi 7 (IEEE 802.11be).
According to the IEEE:
While customers rivet their eyes on Wi-Fi 6, in the bowels of the IEEE 802.11 Working Group that creates Wi-Fi standards, the next generation Wi-Fi is being developed. At the very first sight, the new IEEE 802.11be amendment to the Wi-Fi standard is nothing but scaled 11ax with doubled bandwidth and the increased number of spatial streams, which together provide data rates as high as 40 Gbps.
A bit deeper dive into the 802.11 activities reveals that 11be will support real-time applications. In reality, 11be introduces many more revolutionary changes to Wi-Fi, which will form a basement for further Wi-Fi evolution.
Although by now (May 2020), the development process is at the very early phase without any draft specification, the analysis of the discussion in the 802.11 Working Group gives insights into the main innovations of 11be. In addition to the ones above, they include native multi-link operation, channel sounding optimization that opens the door for massive MIMO, advanced PHY and MAC techniques, the cooperation of various access points.
The Basics of Wi-Fi 7
First, it is important to note that the Wi-Fi Alliance recently simplified the naming protocol of the mainstream Wi-Fi standards as follows:
- 802.11n: Wi-Fi 4
- 802.11ac: Wi-Fi 5
- 802.11ax: Wi-Fi 6
- 802.11be: Wi-Fi 7
The IEEE formed the IEEE 802.11be Extremely High Throughput (EHT) Working Group in the fall of 2018. They have ambitious goals and must meet stiff requirements that meet ever-changing connectivity needs.
For Wi-Fi to remain a leading connectivity technology, it is vital to continually improve the user experience by enhancing performance, increasing spectrum efficiency, and reducing costs. These are the goals of Wi-Fi 7. The IEEE has much work to do to approve and publish 802.11be by their projected date of mid-2024.
Let’s take a look at where Wi-Fi is heading.
Projected Wi-Fi 7 Enhancements
It is common practice to begin developing future wireless technologies at the same time the latest standard emerges into the marketplace. Wi-Fi 6 is on the verge, so it is time to look to the future—to Wi-Fi 7.
Following are the most significant improvements that Wi-Fi 7 is projected to offer.
The newly emerging Wi-Fi 6 technology is 40 percent faster than the current mainstream Wi-Fi 5 wireless transmission standard. Wi-Fi 6 introduced the multi-user, multiple-output (MU-MIMO) that supports eight data streams to work simultaneously.
Wi-Fi 7 intends to introduce the coordinated multiuser MIMO (CMU-MIMO), which will support up to 16 data streams on all three frequencies (.i.e., 2.4 GHz, 5GHz, and 6 GHz) at the same time.
Multi-link Operation (MLO) enables devices to simultaneously transmit and receive across different bands and channels. Wi-Fi 7 seeks to enhance these links by increasing throughput, which is the measurement data between devices in a local network (LAN). MLO will also lower latency (network.server time), and improve reliability.
The Wi-Fi 7 Working Group is aiming to improve wireless access point (AP) coordination. This type of enhancement may include the following:
- Orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMAN)
- Spatial reuse (SR)
- Time-division multiple access (TDMA)
- Beamforming (BF)
- Joint processing (JT)
This type of upgrade could reduce the number of collisions currently experienced with Wi-Fi 6.
The ability to utilize more radio spectrum should mean more speed. Wi-Fi 7 will double the maximum channel size from 160 megahertz (MHz) supported by Wi-Fi 6 to 320MHz. This means the throughput will also be doubled.
Wi-Fi 7 will also support 160+160MHz, 240+180MHZ, and 160+80MHz channels to combine non-contiguous spectrum blocks.
Most wireless networks use Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM). This technology consists of a signal in which two carriers are modulated and combined into a single channel. Wi-Fi 5 standards support 256-QAM, while Wi-Fi 6 standards support 1024-QAM, which carries around 25 percent more raw data. It is anticipated that Wi-Fi 7 will support 4096-QAM which will increase throughput by an additional 20 percent.
Wi-Fi 6 introduced Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). This technology enables multiple users with differing bandwidth requirements to connect to a single AP at the same time. Wi-Fi 7 will continue the use of OFDMA but with increased flexibility. The enhanced OFDMA version will allow the assignment of punctured resource units (RUs) to a single station (STA) and will also support direct link transmissions. These improvements will increase spectrum efficiency and reduce latency, improving the overall user experience.
Many of the enhancements/changes listed above (i.e., MLO, multi-AP, wider channels) will further decrease latency. In addition, latency will be less variable and more predictable.
Wi-Fi 7 promises to be chock full of new capabilities and exciting enhancements that allow for more flexibility and efficiency to all entities that wish to embark on the digital transformation. Simply put: Wi-Fi will become better. There is a bright future ahead for:
- Video streaming
- Video/voice conferencing
- Wireless gaming
- Real-time collaboration
- Cloud/edge computing
- Industrial IoT
- Immersive AR/VR
- Interactive telemedicine
For a more in-depth look at Wi-Fi 7, look here.
Li-Fi: Internet at the Speed of Light
The demand for mobile communication is snowballing at a remarkable rate. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2017-2022,1 mobile data traffic is forecasted to increase to 77 exabytes per month by 2022. This figure is seven times greater than 2017 statistics.
This rapid growth has led to “Spectrum Crunch”—concern about a potential lack of wireless frequency spectrum to support the demands of an ever-increasing number of devices. New technologies are being developed to overcome these obstacles because of the fear of spectrum crunch and other Wi-Fi limitations (e.g., security, range, reliability, and speed). One of these, first launched in 2011, is commonly known as “Li-Fi.”
What is Li-Fi?
According to TechTarget, light-fidelity (Li-Fi):
[…] is a wireless optical networking technology that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for data transmission.
Li-Fi is designed to use LED light bulbs similar to those currently in use in many energy-conscious homes and offices. However, LiFi bulbs are outfitted with a chip that modulates the light imperceptibly for optical data transmission. LiFi data is transmitted by the LED bulbs and received by photoreceptors.
How does Li-Fi work?
Li-Fi comprises a host of light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs that form a wireless network. This technology causes LEDs to emit invisible pulses of light that enable data to travel to and from receivers. Receivers collect and interpret the transmitted data in a similar way to decoding Morse Code but at a far faster pace. Li-Fi has transmission speeds of over 100Gbps (which is 14 times faster than WiGig).
What are the benefits?
Following is a list of Li-Fi benefits to consider.
1) More Bandwidth
At this time, the visible light spectrum (VLS) is under-utilized for wireless communication. It offers far greater bandwidth than is available through a radio frequency spectrum. VLS offers:
- A range from to 428 tp 750 terahertz (THz).
- A capacity that is 10,000 times larger than the entire radio frequency spectrum.
- Relief from Spectrum Crunch pressures.
Lab tests show that Li-Fi can reach speeds that are 100 times faster than current Wi-Fi systems can. For example, Li-Fi can download 18 movies at 1.5 gigabytes (GB) per second.
This technology does not interfere with radio signals; therefore, this technology can be used in environments where interference is an issue (e.g., hospital, airplanes, chemical plants) and even in areas where radio frequency is not possible (e.g., underwater, under-ground mines).
VLS waves are unable to pass through opaque objects, such as walls. Because of this, a Li-Fi connection can not be leaked to the public or hacked into from an adjacent room. It is also possible to set up high-security areas with their own Li-Fi networks to isolate them from the rest of the building where more vulnerable IoT devices are connected.
Because LED bulbs are inherently efficient on their own, Light fidelity has the potential to be a more energy-efficient and cheaper connectivity option. The use of Li-Fi in homes and offices could eliminate the need for several electrical devices, such as routers, modems, signal repeaters, wave amplifiers, and antennas. The fact that many environments already have LED lighting in place makes switching to Li-Fi cost-effective. Not only that, but Scotland’s light communication company — pureLiFi — is developing solar cells as photodetectors that will enable wireless battery charging and wireless internet at the same time.
Li-Fi can be used in conjunction with Wi-Fi, which gives users the option to employ the best network technology for any given device or circumstance. Also, with Li-Fi, every source of light will be able to connect a user to the internet. In the future, this technology will be immediately at hand to the public. Building lights, street lights, transportation lighting, will all be able to communicate wirelessly so the internet can be accessed wherever a user may be.
What are the disadvantages?
Li-Fi has all the exciting advantages listed above, but it is not a perfect solution. Here are a few of the disadvantages inherent in Li-Fi technology.
1) Limited Range
The fact that light can not penetrate walls is a big plus for security; however, it also means that Li-Fi has a minimal range. The Wi-Fi range can reach 32 meters (m) in open spaces, while Li-Fi’s maximum span is only ten m. Thus, Li-Fi can only be effectively used in closed areas where lights need to be strategically installed in rooms and hallways to expand the range of the network.
2) Limited Compatibility
Li-Fi is a new technology. Most devices in use today are geared for Wi-Fi. It is unlikely that the market will see Li-Fi enabled personal devices in the next several years.
3) The Problem of Slow Internet Speeds
While Li-Fi offers a fast data transfer rate, if service providers supply a slow internet speed, Li-Fi’s most significant advantage is pointless. Taking this technology to the mainstream marketplace will involve the collaboration of many industries.
What is the future for Li-Fi?
There is a huge demand for high-speed data communication. And Li-Fi is positioning itself to be a viable solution within the next five to fifteen years. In fact, the industry is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 74.6 percent to reach $80 million by 2023.
The world’s first Li-Fi Forum was held in November 2017. The forum comprised industry leaders such as Deutsche Telekom, Orange, VLNComm, Nokia, pureLiFi, and the University of Edinburgh and ended with a joint commitment to drive broad commercial awareness of this exciting technology.
Also, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.11 Working Group has plans to release a Li-Fi standard by 2021.
To learn more about LED lighting and cybersecurity, check out these Versa Technology articles.
Due to the advancement of technology, there are new needs within telecommunications for the establishment of an efficient network. One of the most critical elements is the network switch because it allows the network to operate smoothly. While you can use a regular network switch, PoE switches may be more beneficial. Here’s what you need to know.
PoE Switches Allow for Fewer Cables and More Devices
In most cases, when connecting to the network, a device must have a power cord and network cable. A PoE network means that only one cable is needed for power supply and data transmission to devices. To do this, you either need a PoE switch or a normal switch and a PoE injector/splitter. Your specific needs are based on the power needs of your devices. Transmitting power using Ethernet cables is standardized by IEEE 802.3 to create four categories. Most importantly, PoE shows its value for those devices that need power and data transmissions. Due to the advancement of the Internet and IoT, the number of devices requiring data that can be controlled remotely has increased significantly and this number is expected to continue to grow. The rapid expansion of connected devices means that PoE will be more important for most infrastructures.
A PoE has Three Common Applications
It’s important to note that PoE is not limited to the applications listed here, but these are the three most common. First is the original PoE device — the VoIP phone. The VoIP phone allowed for the use of PoE to allow for a single connection to have power and data transmission. Second is the IP camera, which is critical in security camera technology, where PoE helps in ease in repositioning and fast deployment. The third is the wireless access point, where remote positioning can be done. Unsurprisingly, smart home automation is benefited by PoE.
There are differences between regular and PoE switches, but the most significant is in relation to accessibility. The regular switch doesn’t let you supply power using an Ethernet cord. However, you can connect a regular switch to a PoE injector/splitter. A PoE switch has a lower cost because you don’t need extra power cables, which helps you keep your infrastructure costs lower. Also, Ethernet cables aren’t as expensive and frequently already installed. Even if they’re not, it is still pretty cheap to install them because installation doesn’t require an electrician. This type of network allows for greater adaptability for connected devices, which means that remote locations or areas without power sources can be covered more easily. Thus, a PoE switch maximizes power resources because power consumption is automatically detected so only the amount needed is supplied, minimizing power waste. Most importantly, PoE switches allows you to stay afloat in an ever-changing world where technology is advancing rapidly.
None of the above means that PoE is perfect. There are cases where a regular switch is better. For example, you can only transmit data over 100 meters with a PoE, which is problematic in large facilities. However, if you have an extender, data transmission can go up to 1,219 meters. Moreover, while technology is advancing, not all technology has reached the status for PoE. So, if your device isn’t PoE compliant, you’ll need an injector/splitter. It’s also important to note that PoE is still advancing. Currently, they can power computers and televisions, but if you need a lot of power, you may not be able to cover it with PoE.
Best Types of PoE Switches
There are several types of PoE switches: (1) unmanaged, (2) smart, and (3) managed. For most people, a managed PoE switch is a great option because it gives the owner much more flexibility and control over the network. However, it’s important to know about all of them. The unmanaged PoE switch is beneficial for home networks or small business offices. This type of switch can’t be modified so you don’t need to worry about enabling or disabling interfaces. They work best for places with less than 5 to 10 computers. However, there aren’t any security features with the unmanaged PoE switch — which can be a major drawback. The smart PoE switch is used for smaller networks too, but is complete with security features. The capabilities of these switches is limited. They offer QoS and VLANs, which is great for labs and small workgroups. You’ll be able to set up a virtual network, but there isn’t anything overly sophisticated for monitoring or troubleshooting. The managed PoE is used for data centers and larger networks. It is the most sophisticated because it has full management capabilities and security features. Therefore, network security, control, and management is high and are beneficial for operations that need 24/7 monitoring. However, these are the most expensive PoE switches, yet allow for scalability for network growth.
PoE switches are great for advancing companies and expanding networks. Be sure to get the one that’s most effective for you.