Retrofit to IP

Retrofit to IP

Using legacy cable to save costs and manpower

Retrofit to IPChoice, cost savings, speed of deployment and convenience. This is what the use of existing legacy cable can afford the end-user as they migrate existing, analog-based surveillance, access control or intercom systems to IP.

Using existing cable should be considered because there is no need to purchase or pull new cable. The facility can remain operational as there is no cable to install, remove or recycle. There also is cost savings by using existing cable that can be used toward more and better cameras as well as vertical applications like elevators, tunnels, mines, subways and train stations with closed-cable bundles which typically need to use the cable they already have. Plus, it is less expensive than fiber.

Lack of Choice

For decades, tens of millions of analog-based, CCTV cameras have been connected to recording and control equipment via coaxial cable. In fact, about 80 percent of analog cameras installed via coax have cable runs greater than the defacto Ethernet standard of 328 feet, actually more like 500-600 feet on average.

There are a lot of customers in the security market today being told that the only way to deploy an IP video surveillance network is to remove the coax cable, and “flood wire” the project with Cat-5 or Cat-6 structured cabling.

But, what about those long, formerly analog device runs? Yet again, the industry is telling people to simply repeat the signal somewhere before the 328 foot interval. And, at that IDF mid-span point—if you can find one—supply the cable extender/ repeater with yet-to-be-installed mains power. That can be expensive. Also, per National Electric Code (NEC), all the old cable has to be removed, which is not very green and yet, another expense. The dirty secret here is that installers aren’t always removing the old cable; they should, but they don’t.

A Viable Alternative

An alternative choice to the time consuming and costly scenario described above is to use the existing cable and a hybrid IP transmission system. There are IP migration transmission systems, called “IP over any cable,” on the market today that allow installers and end users to take advantage of the extended PoE power and Ethernet distance benefits using legacy wire.

More or less, this hybrid technology allows you to use whatever cable is available and in decent shape for the IP migration, whether it is coax, UTP, 2-wire or some other copper wire, twisted or untwisted. This robust IP migration technology allows installers to approach their customers with a whole new tool kit of migration choices and varied benefits. IP-over-any-cable technology features and benefits include:

  • Allows the use of any type of cable over almost any distance and via any topology;
  • overcomes the Ethernet data extender/ repeater 328-foot distance limitation;
  • 50 Watts of PoE power for IP devices— cameras, intercom, access control—at extended distances; • use of one cable to supply IP and PoE connectivity to multiple IP cameras/devices; and
  • usable system diagnostics and monitoring.

The flexibility of these IP migration solutions provides cost-effective, simple and seamless migration avoiding forklift flood-wire installations. If one were to install an entirely new Ethernet network infrastructure, the project would typically be done in one complete, disruptive and expensive pass. The size of the project typically forces a large, expensive, operationallydisruptive, network retrofit on the end user. In the case of a hospital, for example, they rarely have the luxury of displacing patients or shutting down large areas of their facility. Shut downs mean loss of revenue and reductions in quality of care. So, when they are looking to retrofit, this hybrid solution can make sense.

Variety of Cables and Topologies

Native to most building cabling infrastructures is the fact that there have been hosts of cabling types and sizes installed over time. One may think that this is just a mess; others may think it is a resource to be used. IP-over-anycable technology allows multipoint network operation using any star- or daisy-chained cabling topologies and with any combination therein. So, connect UTP to coax to UTP and back to coax, in any topology.

Conventional Ethernet has a pointto- point distance limitation via UTP of 328 feet. For the installer, if the transmission distance is longer, that typically means IDF closets are in odd locations throughout the facility in order to create a proper repeater data and power supply point. This usually involves the installation of a lockable closet or NEMA box.

A typical analog camera has a transmission distance in excess of 500 feet. So, with a 328-foot Ethernet distance limitation that 500 feet would require at least one newly-installed IDF with accompanying Ethernet extenders. And, don’t forget to place or supply power at the IDF and NEMA box. The added expense includes the box, the power being supplied, the extender and labor. With this hybrid IP-over-any-cable solution, as much as 56VDC PoE power is provided from the control room, with up to 50 watts distributed to the IP camera and device end transmission product. No repeaters are ever required, and cameras and other IP devices can operate from the same UPS as other control room equipment.

The typical coax-based IP migration product on the market is either pointto- point, meaning there is one locallypowered transceiver at the camera and one locally-powered transceiver at the control room, or it is powered from a PoE port on a PoE switch. This is not efficient for multi-camera systems.

With a hybrid IP receiver hub at the control room, the system’s potential is maximized by supporting multiple remote transceivers and their cameras. This technology is able to leverage one cable to supply transmission connectivity to multiple cameras. Yes, more than one IP device can be connected to one cable. This results in an easy and costeffective IP device (camera) upgrade with minimal installation labor, while fully leveraging the customer’s investment in legacy cable.

Incremental Migration Is Possible

Extended distance and the wiring topology flexibility are nice too, but the best part about this technology is that it affords the customer a choice of what camera or device is changed out and when. Not everyone can afford a network-wide upgrade to IP. The most important thing is to have the right capability in the correct location.

With this hybrid IP technology, single cameras can be removed and swapped out for several in that location, allowing for greater image coverage and quality. All this choice allows the end-user’s operations to control the project’s impact on the work schedule.

These cable-flexible, IP, media converter solutions are not limited to the support of IP cameras. Due to its flexibility via any cable or topology, it can easily be used to provide Ethernet/PoE throughout the facility for access control, wireless access point support, IP phones, door stations, guard shacks or any other Ethernet transmission application.

The elegance of this flexible, hybrid solution is its simplicity of design and application. Installation is easy; data is robust and reliable; and everyone saves money. This technology enables more installers to approach an IP migration project with a new set of financial and installation deployment options.

This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Security Today.

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