The Debate is on. Ethernet-based IP Networking vs. Coaxial-based Analog Networking

Ethernet-based IP Networking vs. Coaxial-Based Analog Networking: The Debate.

When cable television was first introduced to the public, there was a fierce debate about whether the transmission medium would replace traditional open-air based antenna television.  Those who argued in favor of the new technology were largely basing their argument on a simple precept— consumer demand.  To put it simply, people wanted and were ready for more – more channels, more content, more options.  Cable television offered more to them.  This is a recurring debate that takes place whenever technology that requires new infrastructure is proposed for public consumption.

For the past several years a similar debate based on the acceptance of a new transmission technology has been ongoing in the security industry; traditional coaxial analog video networking vs. IP/Data video networking.  It is a prevalent topic of discussion at trade shows, in conference rooms, and training sessions the world over, and will probably continue to be so for years to come.

Consider this:  basic surveillance networks consists of three primary components:  cameras generating content, a wire-based transmission medium for transporting content, and a recording device for data.  Tune out all of the background noise over functions and feature sets and you’re left with this simple platform of components upon which rests the foundation of nearly every major surveillance network deployed.  Once you’ve done that, the question becomes very simple:  “Which of the two systems offers more?

Security directors the world over are always looking to maximize the performance of their video surveillance systems in terms of both coverage and image detail. With IP-based high definition multi-megapixel cameras, they now have this ability like never before.  A few years ago the concept of being able to zoom in on recorded or archived video to view and recover clear, forensic, detailed information was exclusively reserved to magicians on television shows like CSI.  Now with cameras recording at resolutions higher than the best available monitors are able to display, forensic zooming and analysis of recorded data has become as simple as point and click.

With the introduction of Arecont Vision’s patented 180° and 360° panoramic cameras last year, it is now possible to put multiple, multi-megapixel high-definition cameras inside of a single camera body.  Four separate two megapixel cameras, each with their own CMOS image processor, all operating over a single CAT5 connection.  So for the first time, security personnel can view a sweeping landscape of imagery at amazingly high resolution with a single camera.

The storage and bandwidth requirements of these HD megapixel cameras has been the most common issue preventing widespread acceptance of implementing systems based on IP megapixel technology.  With gigabit switches and terabytes of storage available for hundreds of dollars rather than thousands, I’ve never quite understood this argument.  Now with the rollout of megapixel cameras with H.264 compression, the bandwidth and storage requirements for IP megapixel cameras have dropped tremendously. New H.264 megapixel cameras now offer bandwidth that’s 25 times greater than conventional MPEG megapixel devices, along with incomparable resolution. As a result, the longstanding arguments against IP networking no longer apply. Nathan Wheeler is the Western U.S. Sales Manager for Arecont Vision.

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