Sales Strategies: IP Surveillance vs. Analog CCTV

When approaching new or existing customers, it's not uncommon to encounter resistance to IP surveillance, especially when discussing a choice between IP and traditional analog CCTV. The primary objections? Complexity and price. Yet countering them is often a simple matter of education. To start, educate the customer about the advantages of IP surveillance vs. analog CCTV.

Advantages of Analog CCTV

Simplicity – Analog video has been a universal standard for several decades. Virtually any analog CCTV camera can be plugged into any DVR, regardless of brand. So CCTV literally is as simple as plugging a cable into the camera and into a DVR. Simply point the camera; plug in the cable; power on the DVR. There are many significant limitations to CCTV, but from an installation and learning curve standpoint, CCTV is simple.

Price – In virtually all cases, IP cameras are more expensive than analog CCTV cameras. This becomes more apparent when you see DIY camera/DVR bundles at "big box" stores for well under $1,000. These turnkey bundles include 4 to 8 outdoor cameras, cabling, DVR (with hard drive installed), and some even include a remote and an LCD, making them a complete standalone video surveillance system. So it's easy for a customer to compare quotes and be swayed by the apparent low price of analog CCTV. However, once customers learn of CCTV's inherent limitations and the advantages of IP, many often discover that IP actually costs less than analog. Let's explore.

Limitations of Analog CCTV

Scalability and Installation Flexibility – CCTV stands for closed circuit television, and that is its first weakness. It's closed, which means it's hard-wired and difficult to scale. It's an "octopus" installation (with each camera's cable being an "octopus leg" extending out from the DVR, the "octopus head"). Conversely, nothing in the analog world comes close the ease of scalability and installation flexibility available with IP cameras. IP surveillance allows you to easily scale any installation as your needs and budget grow. With IP surveillance, you can also tackle much larger deployments like campuses, multi-level buildings and multi-site retail stores. CCTV DVRs have a fixed number of camera inputs, and on most DVRs, there's no way to scale beyond this limit. For example, if a DVR has eight inputs, you can record up to eight cameras. When it's time to add a ninth camera, your options are to replace the entire DVR with one with a higher port count or add a second independent DVR.

Resolution – The analog video standard NTSC was developed in the 1950's. Regardless of a camera's image quality claims, the video signal is still being transmitted down a resolution-limited pipe that was invented over 70 years ago. Therefore, resolution is still the primary reason the industry continues to shift from analog to IP. Consider this: A 1.3 megapixel IP camera is nearly 4 times the resolution of full D1 analog. A 3 megapixel camera is over 9 times the resolution of analog. Once a customer realizes how much additional detail they can see with megapixel IP cameras, they soon abandon the notion of analog CCTV cameras.

Another significant advantage of higher resolution is the ability to cover a wider scene. A single multi-megapixel camera can often take the place of 2 or 3 analog cameras, which makes total cost of ownership the issue vs. cost per camera. Now there are fewer cameras to purchase, fewer cameras to install and fewer cameras to maintain. And let's not forgot the risk of inadequate analog video quality: the cost of not being able to identify a suspect in a criminal activity or not being able to disprove a slip and fall claim.

Cabling – CCTV cameras require coax cable, which only carries one signal: the video. To power the camera, you'll need a nearby power outlet or a separate power cable. Or you can use combined video/power cable, but this further increases the cabling cost. If you want audio or PTZ functionality, each of these also requires an additional cable. The bottom line: CCTV cabling is expensive and limiting. In contrast, IP typically only requires a single low-cost network cable for each camera run. And because IP surveillance networks are decentralized, you need only run cable to the nearest switch, not to the recording device or server.

Intelligence – CCTV cameras are generally considered dumb devices, meaning they output only a video signal. With the exception of PTZ cameras, there's no easy way to control the functionality of an analog camera remotely. In addition, there's no onboard intelligence, such as video motion detection. IP cameras, on the other hand, are essentially computers with high-end integrated cameras. Not only can they be remotely configured (e.g., resolution, brightness, frame rate), they can also detect motion or tampering and act on it by emailing, uploading or recording images or video to an embedded SD card or external storage device.

Summing It All Up

It's clear that once a customer is educated on the advantages of IP vs. analog CCTV, objections based on price go away. That leaves simplicity of installation and operation. If a customer application only requires a DVR and a fixed number of cameras, then CCTV wins on simplicity. However, if the customer wants remote access to his live views and recordings, the DVR will need to have an Ethernet port. And with an Ethernet port comes a router, switches, computers, software and mobile apps. The good news is most businesses already have a network and an IT resource at hand. So why be limited to an analog solution when an IP-based solution offers so much more.

In addition, most modern IP surveillance systems have setup wizards, auto discovery and a number of other tools that make installation and configuration simple. And while it may not be quite as simple as "point camera, plug in, power on," that's the direction it's headed. The days of analog CCTV are going the way of CRT televisions. There's simply so much more to gain from an IP surveillance system.

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