Power over Ethernet (PoE) allows devices to use an ethernet connection as a power source, most commonly found in IP phones. The ethernet cable provides the power for the device to operate as well as network connectivity.
Power over Ethernet, or PoE, describes any of several standards or ad hoc systems that pass electric power along with data on twisted-pair Ethernet cabling. This allows a single cable to provide both data connection and electric power to devices such as wireless access points (WAPs), Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones.
There are several common techniques for transmitting power over Ethernet cabling. Three of them have been standardized by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standard IEEE 802.3 since 2003. These standards are known as alternative A, alternative B, and 4PPoE. For 10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX, only two of the four signal pairs in typical Cat 5 cable are used. Alternative B separates the data and the power conductors, making troubleshooting easier. It also makes full use of all four twisted pairs in a typical Cat 5 cable. The positive voltage runs along pins 4 and 5, and the negative along pins 7 and 8.
Alternative A transports power on the same wires as data for 10 and 100 Mbit/s Ethernet variants. This is similar to the phantom power technique commonly used for powering condenser microphones. Power is transmitted on the data conductors by applying a common voltage to each pair. Because twisted-pair Ethernet uses differential signaling, this does not interfere with data transmission. The common-mode voltage is easily extracted using the center tap of the standard Ethernet pulse transformer. For Gigabit Ethernet and faster, both alternatives A and B transport power on wire pairs