Network Fundamentals for the Security Installer

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IP technology in the security market today continues to demand presence and attention from many industry professionals. With IT continuing to play an integral part of growing security technology, integration professionals are given the chance to learn networking from the IT perspective. Although networking concepts are not foreign to most security installers, as they’ve been creating networks of pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras using RS-485 technology for many years now, they face the challenge of absorbing 20-plus years of IT network specific knowledge at a rapid pace.


Know your network cabling

Be aware of the wiring and cabling that is available to you. Although today’s security market is seeing a growing presence of wireless technologies, it is vital to remember the basics, as cable serves as the medium of communication through which information is sent.



Unshielded twisted pair cabling (UTP) serves as a popular and most convenient form of cabling. The Electronic Industries and Telecommunications Industry Associations (EIA/TIA) established standards of UTP and grouped the wires into five basic categories, dependent upon the Mb/s traveled.

Copper Category 5 (CAT 5) cable serves as the long-time standard for networks and is generally capable of working at up to 10 Mb/s. CAT 5 is composed of four twisted pairs of wire wrapped by a common sheath. The CAT 5e cable, which according to EIA/TIA standards is the next generation of CAT 5, features a bandwidth of up to 100Mb/s due to increased manufacturing tolerances and techniques.

An increasing need for network speed created demand for higher-performance cable such as CAT 6. Rated at 1Gb/s data bandwidth, the larger conductors of CAT 6 have specifically designed fillers to maintain the positions of the individual pairs, which minimize crosstalk within the cable. Further development continues to drive the capability of these cables with CAT 6a cable rated at 10Gb/s.



Fiber optic

Present since the early 1970s, fiber optics is what one may be familiar with in talking about their telephone line, Internet or cable television system. Serving as another cost-effective solution, it provides two primary purposes in networks. It allows the distance between the core switches and the edge switches to exceed the 300-foot (100 meters) maximum distance of an Ethernet connection and provides transmission of signals over higher-bandwidth applications, such as data centers. Fiber optic cable is characterized by the size and type of the fiber. Ranging from single mode fiber to multimode fiber, the use that each provides depends on the applications in which it is used. Multimode fiber is the most common fiber in networks today and has a 62.5-micrometer core.


Networking 101

Cabling and electronic devices, such as hubs, switches, gateways, routers and wireless access points, make up the physical part of the network. Today, most of the traffic on an IT network uses the Transmission Control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP), which can be considered the network’s “language.”

Network bandwidth is measured in bits per second (bps), which may seem strange to installers who are used to talking about bandwidth measured in Hertz or KHz. However, in both cases, the term bandwidth indicates the ability of the system to carry a signal without change or degradation.

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