This saves users from having to install new cables and power sockets and uprate wiring cabinets. Power over Ethernet allows companies to add low-power items such as phones - including voice over IP phones - very quickly.
At CeBIT, 3Com launched the 24-port Superstack 3 Switch 4400 PWR. To work with the switch, 3Com also launched new connection jacks for devices to plug into, new IP-based phones, and compatible wireless local area network access points.
Foundry launched the Fastiron Edge 2402 POE and 4802 POE switches.
All the major networking suppliers are working on power over Ethernet equipment, despite the IEEE standard, 802.3af, still being at "draft specification" stage. It is expected to be ratified later this year.
Dave Zwicker, 3Com's vice-president of marketing, said, "Customer concerns about extra cabling, multiple back-up systems, space limitations, high-cost, and proprietary products are eliminated with power over Ethernet."
Clive Longbottom, head of research at analyst firm Quocirca, said, "Because power over Ethernet uses spare wires in thin Ethernet cabling, it is probably not possible to go above 200W. Powering a desktop is out of the question, but laptops will be possible soon."