Today’s Alphabet Soup: the NEC, PoE and LP

We are getting lots of questions about the recently revised 2017 National Electric Code and its impact on Power over Ethernet. We have answers … and for the most part, it is good news! Here are some of the most common questions we’re getting around the NEC and PoE.

First off, let’s define this alphabet soup we’re talking about.

NEC = National Electric Code. Specifically, we’re addressing the recently revised 2017 National Electric Code.

PoE = Power over Ethernet. For the most part, we are addressing next-generation PoE, or the pending IEEE 802.3bt standard, which will introduce PoE running over all four pairs of an Ethernet cable. This is commonly referred to as PoE++ or 4PPoE. The 802.3bt standard further breaks PoE++ into two types based on power at the source: Type 3 (up to 60W) and Type 4 (up to 99W). (Note: The IEEE 802.3bt standard is expected to be ratified in early 2018.)

LP = Limited Power, a new UL listing for copper cables.

Does the NEC impact all PoE installations?

No. Most installations will not be affected by the new rules. The 2017 NEC addresses only those systems with power levels above 60W, which is the pending Type 4 PoE++. Existing installations of PoE and PoE+, and the pending Type 3 PoE++ are not affected by the 2017 changes to the NEC.

Am I required to use LP cables now?

Again, no. The NEC itself says LP is not required to run Power over Ethernet. However, if you use LP listed cables, it can simplify the installation and inspection of the project.

How can an LP listing make installation simpler?

It’s all about bundling and inspection. With a Type 4 installation, you have two choices: use LP cables or not.

If you use LP listed cables, you don’t have to worry about bundle sizes or inspections.

If you don’t use LP cables, you must follow the NEC’s ampacity table to determine bundle sizes. The installation then is subject to inspection to ensure compliance with the ampacity table bundle sizes. You can find the ampacity table in our recently published technology brief, Impact of 2017 National Electric Code on Power over Ethernet Cabling.

How will inspections happen?

This is where it gets fuzzy. Today, the NEC is adopted primarily at the state level, although in some states, it is adopted and enforced by local jurisdictions. And, state adoption and enforcement varies. While most states today are following the 2014 NEC, some are still following 2011, and a handful still follow 2008. It is unclear how inspections will occur.

What parts of the cabling system need the LP listing?

Permanently installed cable is the only component that requires an LP listing. It does not apply to patch cords.

Do I need to be concerned about fire hazards with higher rated PoE?

No. As long as the installation follows standards for installation, including proper bundling sizes, Power over Ethernet doesn’t pose a life safety threat.


To wrap it all up, the highlights to leave with:

  1. The only affected systems are those running Type 4 PoE++
  2. LP is not required, even for Type 4 PoE++
  3. If you don’t use LP cables for Type 4, the installation will have bundle limits and will be subject to inspection
  4. Life Safety is NOT an issue with Power over Ethernet
  5. Panduit can help! Our most common Cat 6 and Cat 6A cables carry an LP rating, including our MaTriX offering, which handles Power over Ethernet better than any other cable on the market.

Trump and his impact on the healthcare structured cabling market

Healthcare, specifically the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was a central topic healthcarethroughout the recent U.S. presidential campaigns. Though we can’t say how just yet, Donald Trump’s election will likely bring change to the U.S. healthcare market. Trump campaign promises pointed to repealing and replacing the ACA with something completely different; however, as time goes on, it is expected that at least parts of the ACA will remain.

Over the past several years, the U.S. healthcare industry has been consumerized through initiatives like the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). These initiatives changed the way that physicians are paid from a volume-based system to a value-based system. This has forced providers to reduce the cost of care while improving quality and patient outcomes. These cost reductions and the concern for the quality of patient care is likely to continue, and perhaps become even more important during the Trump administration.

Based on what we have heard thus far, analysts predict the following for health care under Trump’s policies:

  • There will be more of an emphasis on price transparency for medical procedures and other healthcare costs.
  • The Medical Productivity Index* (MPI) is expected to increase by 2% by 2026.
  • MACRA is likely to continue.
  • We will see greater consumer responsibility for healthcare costs, creating a more competitive market.
  • The number of uninsured people will increase by as many as 25 million, with conservative estimates hovering around 20 million.

Impact on the Healthcare Structured Cabling Market

What do these things mean for the healthcare structured cabling market? We can expect continued growth in the healthcare industry; however, it may look different than over the past decade.

  • Large hospital new construction is likely to decline. At the same time, hospitals are likely to continue investing in technology. This technology will deliver operational efficiencies and improved precision and diagnostics, which will drive down costs.
  • The amount of data will continue to increase, and speed of retrieval and analysis will be more important than ever. This forces the need for high-speed cabling and large-scale storage, especially as hospital groups continue to acquire independent facilities, creating more centralized systems.
  • Healthcare IT and facilities groups will have less budget to work with while being expected to deliver the highest quality of service to the organization.

Regardless of whether the ACA (also known as ‘Obamacare’) is repealed or not, it appears that the emphasis on value-based care will continue to grow. As structured cabling professionals, it is our responsibility to guide the healthcare community towards solutions that are both cost-effective and deliver the resilience and performance that a medical environment demands.

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*The Medical Industry Leadership Institute developed the Medical Productivity Index to measure the productivity of insurance-financed medical care. The MPI analyzes the health status achieved by a patient relative to the amount of resources invested in that patient’s care. The higher the index number, the better the return on investment. Care through Medicaid produces a low index value, whereas health savings accounts generally produce the highest index value.

Innovation 2.0

At Panduit, we take pride in finding new solutions to old problems (and new onescim_generic, too!). And, when we  work with the best customers around to help them find solutions to their problems, that’s even better. Last week, Cabling Installation & Maintenance presented their annual Cabling Innovators Awards. And, for the second year, several Panduit projects were recognized as being the best of the best. Without further ado, I’m proud to present a snapshot of our honorees and their cabling innovations.

Purdue University

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CI&M Chief Editor Patrick McLaughlin (left) and Group Publisher Alan Bergstein (right), present a Gold Cabling Innovators Award to (from left) Tom Kelly, Director of Business Development, Enterprise Solutions, Panduit; Daniel Pierce, Telecommunications Design Engineer, Purdue University; and Dennis Renaud, Vice President, Enterprise Solutions, Panduit.

Purdue embarked on a project during the 2014-15 school year, to update and expand their wireless coverage on campus. For today’s students, wireless access isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Information Technology at Purdue tackled the upgrade project in two phases: One to add coverage in residence halls; a second to add density in academic buildings and common areas. The residence hall project caught the judges’ eyes for innovation, as the university relied on Panduit’s surface raceway and 28 AWG patch cords, along with Cisco 702 access points to deliver wireless throughout the residence halls. The raceway/patch cord/AP solution provided the wireless performance they needed while keeping the aesthetic already in place for their wired connections.

The Purdue wireless project was named a “Boilermaker” Gold honoree by the CI&M judges.

Global Insurance and Financial Services Firm

Panduit’s small-diameter cabling is at the heart of the solution installed by a global insurance and financial services firm, to optimize the space in their telecommunications rooms. Switch harnesses with 28-AWG patch cabling has provided four main benefits:

  1. Time: the quick-connect feature cuts installation time from about an hour per RU to 20 minutes per RU … and we all know that time means money!
  2. Space savings and cable management: Because of the small size, more cabling fits, saving rack space for equipment rather than cable management; it also simplifies cable management, making moves, adds, and changes simple.
  3. Single length: The company uses one length of patch cord everywhere, which eliminates ordering and installation errors.
  4. Standardization: Every telecommunication room at all of their sites are deployed with the same footprint, making installation and management easier for everyone involved.

CI&M’s judges awarded this project a gold award.

CenterPoint Energy

Texas-based CenterPoint Energy presented a Texas-sized issue: they wanted to unify their IT physical infrastructure platforms across their internal business units, and within each facility. Multiple vendors, multiple sites, and multiple cities equals multiple headaches. CenterPoint standardized its data center operations around a Panduit Intelligent Data Center solution, including Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software, hardware, and infrastructure offerings. This solution was end-to-end Panduit: fiber and copper cabling, dual cable pathways, PDUs, overhead patching, cooling optimization, grounding and bonding, and thermal containment. “We required a solutions provider that could deliver comprehensive technological advancements while helping us ensure business continuity,” said CenterPoint’s Tom Tanous, senior manager of Business Reliance and Data Center Management.

centerpoint5-cropped

CenterPoint Energy was recognized with a Silver Cabling Innovators Award.

The CenterPoint project was named a silver honoree by CI&M judges.

CyrusOne

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Winner of a Silver Cabling Innovators Award was data center provider CyrusOne. CI&M Chief Editor Patrick McLaughlin (left) and Group Publisher Alan Bergstein (right) presented the award to (from left) Dennis Renaud, Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, Panduit; CyrusOne Chief Information Officer Blake Hankins; and Panduit’s Tom Kelly, Director of Business Development, Enterprise Solutions.

With more than 3 million square feet of rentable data center space, CyrusOne is one of the largest data center providers in the U.S., with global customers relying on CyrusOne’s colocation services. Their new Austin Data Center II has been optimized with Panduit’s SynapSense software, delivering energy savings and increased efficiency by continuously aligning cooling capacity with changes in IT load.

“Panduit has enabled our customers to essentially keep tabs on their servers in CyrusOne’s facility with a level of data access and detail comparable to operating a data center of their own,” said Amaya Souarez, vice president of CyrusOne’s Data Center Systems & Security. “Plus, we’ve experienced both operational and power efficiencies. It’s quite incredible!”

CyrusOne was recognized as a silver honoree by the CI&M judges.

The Innovators Awards were judged based on the following criteria:

  • Innovative
  • Value to the User
  • Sustainability
  • Meeting a Defined Need
  • Collaboration
  • Impact

Alan Bergstein, publisher of Cabling Installation & Maintenance (http://www.cablinginstall.com) said “This prestigious program allows Cabling Installation & Maintenance to celebrate and recognize the most innovative products and services in the structured cabling industry. Our 2016 Honorees are an outstanding example of companies who are making an impact in the industry.”

Congratulations to all of these outstanding customers for their efforts. Panduit is proud to share these awards with all of you.

What is Driving the Growth of Power over Ethernet?

Since its introduction in 2002, Power over Ethernet has gradually gained momentum in the market. Today, PoE has not only gained market acceptance, but is being pushed to even higher power levels, as a next generation of PoE technology is on the horizon. A new PoE standard, IEEE 802.3bt – or PoE++ — is expected to be ratified in Q1 2018, and will triple the power delivery capabilities from today’s standard.

The increased power delivery means the technology can be used to power a new generation of powered devices. However, while it will be possible to run a desktop computer or television using PoE, those applications take a backseat to several more common applications that are driving the acceptance of Power over Ethernet in the Enterprise space. According to BSRIA forecast projections from September 2015, PoE to the desktop has been and will continue to be the biggest driver. In 2014, PoE powered one or more devices on an estimated 80% of all desktops. That number is expected to increase to 92% by 2020.

PoE applications

While the highest PoE usage is to the desktop, two applications are driving the uptake in PoE usage: wireless access points and security cameras. Today, about 55% of all wireless access points are powered using Power over Ethernet. That usage is projected to surge to 80% by 2020, and as more WAPs are deployed, that will, in turn, increase the amount of power that is delivered by PoE. Also driving PoE usage are security cameras. Today, about 35% of all security cameras are powered with PoE. BSRIA predicts that will grow to 50% within the next five years.

Wireless access points and security cameras are not only driving the usage of PoE, they are also the devices that are largely driving the need for the higher power levels that will become a reality with PoE++. Cameras are becoming more sophisticated, with pan, tilt and zoom features that require more wattage to properly operate. And, wireless access points are also power-hungry as they continue to evolve to keep up with wifi demands.

The Good News

So, what does this increased reliance on Power over Ethernet mean for your structured cabling installation? For the most part, it is good news! Today’s cabling can support the new power levels. There are factors that need to be addressed … like temperature rise, but they are easily addressable using the standard copper cabling infrastructure that is on the market today. Our Technology Brief: Power over Ethernet with Panduit Copper Cabling spells out some of the common issues that need to be addressed when deploying PoE, or watch our on-demand webcast: Delivering Tomorrow’s Power over Ethernet with Today’s Cabling and Connectivity.

 

Category 8: Delivering 25 and 40GBASE-T

Category 8 is the new copper twisted-pair structured cabling standard being developed within both the TIA and ISO groups to support the new 25 and 40GBASE-T standards being developed by the IEEE. Category 8 is going to have a few differences over prior Category 5e, 6, or 6A cabling, but will still retain the familiarity and features that make RJ45 copper the most widely deployed Ethernet technology on the market.

Cat 8 product

What is new with Category 8?

There are a few differences between Category 8 and prior categories that should be understood.

  • Shielded offering only (no unshielded option)
  • 30 meter reach (versus 100 meter reach for Category 5e, 6, and 6A)
  • Only 2 connectors allowed per channel (versus 4 for Category 5e, 6, and 6A)
  • 4 times the bandwidth of Category 6A, going all the way up to 2000 MHz

    Cat 8 2000 MHz

What is the same with Category 8?

While there are differences, a lot stays the same, as well.

  • Category 8 uses the same RJ45 interface as Category 5e, 6, and 6A, which makes it backwards compatible with 100BASE-T, 1000BASE-T, and 10GBASE-T systems
  • Category 8 will be field terminable and field testable once available product comes to market

What do these differences mean?

Because of the limited reach of 30 meters and 2 connectors, Category 8 is focused on data centers, particularly End of Row or Top of Rack deployments.

This means that as a data center manager, you should plan for:

  • A maximum jack-to-jack reach of 24 meters
  • Grounding the connectivity
  • A maximum of 6 meters of patch total

Latest Industry Developments

Panduit is the latest company to announce that our Category 8 system has been tested by Intertek (3rd party) and confirmed to meet the latest Category 8 TIA draft standard.

The Panduit system we tested was a 30-meter channel, with a 24-meter link and 6 meters of patch cords (3 meters on each end).

It is expected that the standard will be ratified by mid-2016, which is the earliest point where product will be available.

What should I do today?

Panduit strongly recommends against installing any Category 7 or 7A systems. These systems do not have the bandwidth (Category 7 is 600MHz, 7A is 1000MHz) to handle 25 or 40GBASE-T (need bandwidth over 1600MHz). Additionally, Category 7 and 7A do not use RJ45 connectors, so a hybrid patch cord would be required to interface to the equipment.

If you are deploying a cabling system now, Panduit recommends that you install and deploy Category 6A systems. They have the same RJ45 interface as the equipment and can run all current applications up to 10GBASE-T. If you are planning a layout to eventually accommodate Category 8, stick to a permanent link length of 24 meters or below with up to 6 meters of patch total.

Category 6A in the Enterprise

The rollout of new AC wireless access points in the enterprise represents the first multi-gigabit application to be deployed in the enterprise. This is a perfect time to review the media choices being made to ensure your physical infrastructure is capable of supporting the application for the life of the enterprise. If we compare the relative cost per Gigabit for category 6A and single gig infrastructures, we find that category 6A (10GBASE-T) is more cost-effective per gigabit:

Cost per GB

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The Health of Your Network Matters

Nursing HomeHospitals, clinics, extended care facilities, and physicians’ offices are facing increasing pressure to improve the quality of healthcare while decreasing costs.  In response, health care providers are adopting greater use of electronic medical records, automated equipment and building automation systems. As a result, the number of users requiring network access through the use of portable and mobile devices such as handheld units and laptops to manage patient records, monitor clinical applications and reference workplace requirements is extending the need for campus wide network access.

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Measure, Improve and Maintain for Higher Efficiency

Statistics, multiple analysts, and research reports indicate that data centers are often overprovisioned with power and cooling capacity to maintain service levels regardless of actual IT equipment utilization. As you are well aware, this approach has proven to be expensive and inefficient. As data center energy consumption grows it is drawing the attention of CFO’s and corporate responsibility managers who are concerned with the impact of the data center’s operation on the environment and of course, the impact on the bottom line. So how can you improve your data center’s efficiency?

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Changing Technology is Reshaping Education

Constantly changing technology is reshaping the way we all work, play, communicate, and educate. A new generation of students, more intimately familiar with computing, multimedia tools, and distance learning expect more from their education environment than just books and chalkboards. Gone are the days when a cart-mounted TV and video unit were considered “multi-media” tools. Today’s students expect high-tech learning institutions as well as the flexibility to learn from the comfort of their own home.

Little Girl with Laptop

New applications allow teachers, professors, and instructors to provide a more dynamic and effective learning experience, improve teaching techniques, and ultimately raise test scores and graduation rates. In a fast-paced society, presenting students with literally hundreds of educational choices daily, it is important for schools, colleges, and universities to take advantage of changing technology tools and new applications, in order to stay competitive and keep students’ attention.

By adopting new technologies such as converged networks, wireless applications, and connected buildings systems, educational institutions can broaden the range of tools available in the classroom, improve network access and security for remote students, consolidate information, and maintain student records across an entire campus, all at a reduced operating cost. From using smartphones and tablets, to taking class attendance, to managing a centrally distributed audio-video program, convergence and deployment of wireless offers a whole new spectrum of services and benefits.

For more information on how Panduit can help you create a high-tech learning institution please visit www.panduit.com/education.

Small to Medium Business Market: the Key is Availability

Are you among the large number of contractors doing work in the small to medium business (SMB) market such as K-12 schools, retail, multi-unit residential buildings, clinics and local government offices?  If you are, then you need products that are specifically designed for your needs with local availability, ease of installation, standards compliancy, convenient packaging and price valued products.
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