Cisco released several updated and new product lines that incorporate the IEEE's 802.3af power over Ethernet (PoE) standard. PoE is important for several reasons, most notably because it makes VoIP implementations easier. Phones and other network devices can receive power via the network, which can help enterprises save time and money, since only one cable is needed for each device, and it also eliminates the need to have a wall outlet near every network device.
However, several of the company's competitors -- including Nortel Networks Inc., Foundry Networks Inc. and Extreme Networks Inc. -- had already released switch lines supporting 802.3af. Why did Cisco wait so long? Primarily because it needed more time to ensure all of its new products are backward-compatible with its proprietary technology.
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