How the Growth of Wireless Affects the Workstation

September 23, 2015
by Matt Gentile, Product Manager Datacom Products – General Cable

In a 2013 survey, General Cable asked “How many drops do you see installing?” to 200 market fields in construction, installation and maintenance. With the growth of wireless, we should see a decrease in the need for cable and therefore the number of drops. These two hundred users, surveyed over two different years, predicted an increase in the number of drops to the workstation.

  2012 Survey 2013 Survey YOY Change
1 Drop 16% 11% -5%
2 Drops 46% 46% 0%
3-4 Drops 30% 28% -2%
More than 4 Drops 8% 15% 7%

According to the above chart, the possibility of installing four or more drops increased from eight to 15% between the 2012 and 2013 survey. Those predicting the addition of one drop fell from 16 to 11%. While this is not a scientifically constructed study, we were encouraged that it was not a steady decline.

So the question is: if the use of wireless is growing, increasing capabilities while improving bandwidths and speeds, why then is the number of drops not decreasing? We believe the answer is Power over Ethernet (PoE). PoE at the workstations is fairly common and the surveyed markets indicate that usage will increase in the next few years.

The left pie chart below indicates where we are right now. The purple segment denotes the people using PoE, mostly the IP phones on their desks. In one to three years, these same people expect their usage to increase through expansion into new categories. Notice the increase in the purple segment of the right pie chart.

PoE at the Workstation

First generation PoE came out in early 2000 at 13 Watts. A few years later, 802.11at, more than doubled the power. The chart below depicts the need for continual wattage increase into the future.

Need for continual wattage increase into the future

This diagram examines applications already using more than the 30 watt that IEEE standard governs right now. Some of those applications include Nurse Call Systems, Point of Sale devices, Building Management and Video Conferencing. All of these can be powered now with Cap 5E copper cabling.

Heating effect in the cable becomes a problem when the power increases, bundles get larger, or work spaces are enclosed. Following TIA recommendations and guidelines for the specific cabling used in your location, will prevent heating effects and eliminate any possible problems. For additional solutions to the problem of higher power usage, bigger bundles and enclosed spaces consider the products featured below.

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Power over Ethernet (PoE) has evolved from a niche solution to a viable powering option for many applications. Holding its own alongside the evolution of PoE, General Cable’s EfficienC™ Max line of GenSPEED® Brand products power high-wattage applications, both safely and cost-effectively. Ultimate EfficienC is here. Read more.


In a subsequent study, General Cable polled the market about the demand for hardwired data ports in the next few years. Those replies roughly predict a 20% increase in drops to the workstation. That translates as having a +1%-›+2% positive effect on category cable sales.

Hardwired Data Ports

We conclude that this predicted increase is driven by the potential of PoE and General Cable and other manufacturers responding to the need for increased power that new devices are drawing. Consequently, we think that drops to the workstation will increase slightly over the next decade.

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