Getting Device Networking Requirements Right

Q:        We’re planning to upgrade our security video system that’s a mix of analog and IP cameras, all of which have home run cables going to various recorders. IT has asked us to document the future networking requirements. Isn’t that for them to figure out?

A:        It’s for both of you to figure it out together. However, based on new network technologies, security device network requirements have recently changed for the better.

Collaboration between IT and physical security teams over security system networking requirements isn’t new. However, security device networking technology has changed tremendously in recent years, requiring closer consideration of device requirements in light of new network technology capabilities.

For over two decades, we’ve been saddling our IT departments with the task of making office LAN technology work everywhere. We’ve also been saddling our organizations with the task of funding the network deployment and maintenance, dutifully making sure that we followed IT standards. If we continue to do so, we’ll be overpaying for underperforming LAN technology.

Not Just IT Standards – OT Standards

We didn’t know it, but for the past decade, OT (operations technology) engineers have been working on separate OT networking standards designed to meet the requirements of industrial manufacturing users. Forget CAT5e and CAT6 cables for security device Ethernet networking. The OT professionals can now establish Ethernet networks over multiple cable types, including single twisted pair cable. This works very well for connecting low-speed devices such as sensors, actuators and relays, as well as physical access control and lighting applications. It works for security video cameras, too.

There are more network standards – and technologies based on them – than what we’ve been aware of.  

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) maintains the 802 group of communications standards for local area networks and metropolitan area networks (LAN/MAN). The various IEEE 802.3 standards define different aspects of Ethernet technology. There are currently over 78 standards in the 802.3 family. (See the Wikipedia article, IEEE 802.3.)

For example, 802.3cg is the standard for 10 Mbit/s Single twisted pair Ethernet. Subsequent standards have added PoE power to it.

Long Reach Ethernet

One of the very big things about these new OT standards is that the distances for a single Ethernet cable run have been extended to 1,000 and even 2,000 feet – including with PoE. The term for this is Long Reach Ethernet. This is a big deal for outdoor camera deployments, airports, seaports, parks and large logistic facilities for which local power is often not available or is very costly for ideal camera locations. Often providing power to the cameras will cost more than the cameras themselves. Long Reach Ethernet is one of the reasons why Modern LAN designs are simpler and much less costly to deploy.

Existing Cable Reuse

It’s now possible to certify (test against the performance that standards require) existing cable infrastructure and qualify for reuse coax cable (including with PoE over coax), single-pair, two-pair, and four-pair cable including CAT3 and CAT5. Most folks in the physical security domain don’t realize that coax cable was designed to carry multiple video channels at once, because coax has only been used as one cable per camera in security.

In telecommunications, broadband is the wide-bandwidth data transmission that transports multiple signals at once using a wide range of frequencies, which enables multiple data streams each on their own frequency (including video streams) to be sent simultaneously. The communications medium can be coaxial cable, optical fiber, radio (such as wireless Internet), twisted pair cable, or satellite.

Cable infrastructure is costly, and many integrators today – who are unfamiliar with OT networking technology – typically propose installing all-new cable infrastructure for security system use. I’m aware of a recent large-scale video deployment that saved over one million dollars by reusing existing cable infrastructure, allowing them to utilize the exact makes and models of camera that fit their requirements, without having to compromise.  

Managed Power Provisioning

PoE also establishes full control over power management. Deploying a large managed power system independent of the network cabling is not cost-feasible in most large-scale security device deployments. Deploying unmanaged power using independent power adapters at every camera location is very costly to maintain and can result in unacceptable device downtime due to the need for on-location service truck calls to determine the source of the problem and address it.

Proven Technologies

While high-performance Modern LAN networking technologies are relatively new to the physical security domain, they are a common element of telecom infrastructure and many types of IoT and Industrial IoT deployments. To call attention to the new LAN technology capabilities, Frost & Sullivan produced a technical paper titled, The Modern LAN.  Visit The Modern LAN website ( to download the paper, which contains Modern LAN principles and best practices.

There are very informative customer videos and downloadable case studies from NVT Phybridge, the leading manufacturer of Modern LAN technologies, on this page:

Getting the Network Requirements Right

Modern LAN principles number one suggests beginning with the endpoint requirements and not the network’s capabilities. Many devices, including cameras, will never require more than 10 Mbps, so they definitely don’t need a 1GB connection. They don’t require high-wattage PoE power, either. Yes, some cameras will require more than 10 Mbps, for example, if they are high-megapixel cameras transmitting video at full frame rates if the cameras detect motion. Most of the camera video deployments I’ve seen have network segments providing 100 Mbps or even 1Gbps to each camera, regardless of whether they need it or not. On the same camera deployments, I’ve seen long runs of 110V power out to remote locations, providing 10 to 100 times more wattage capacity than will ever be used.

For the purpose of determining network requirements for each camera, document the following:

  • Camera purpose
  • Required resolution and frame rate to achieve the purpose (this impacts network bandwidth requirement)
  • Assume no transmitting on motion, because if it rains, snows or storms, all outdoor cameras can be transmitting fully for extended periods of time
  • Camera power requirement
  • PoE Class required to power the camera:  

                o   PoE (802.3af) – 15.4W

                o   PoE+ (802.3at) – 30W

                o   PoE ++ (802.3bt - Type 3) – 60W

                o   PoE ++ (802.3bt - Type 4) – 100W

  • PoE Budget: Maximum amount of power a PoE device will require. For example, four cameras requiring 75W each will not consume 400W from the PoE network switch, but 300W. This matters in the case where all switch ports are PoE-enabled ports, but the overall switch PoE wattage capacity doesn’t support the full load for the PoE class on every port. This is common for office LAN switches, but not for Modern LAN switches.
  • What network topology is best to address all requirements? One of the most common mistakes made by those layering physical security endpoints on the same switch fabric that supports the core business is backup power requirements and scoping. For the most part, data-centric endpoint connections do not require significant PoE. Thus, the business system switches fabric’s existing backup power will not be sufficient to support the PoE power required by new physical security endpoints.

When the backup power depletes faster than expected, not only does the camera system go down, but the core business network goes down faster, too. Administrators can eliminate the impact on the core network by applying Modern LAN principles and segmenting physical security endpoints on separate PoE networks. Organizations can create robust PoE strategies to support physical security endpoints and improve overall network security and management simplicity. After all, without power for the security devices, the network bandwidth delivered to them doesn’t matter.

Get a Close-Up Look at Modern LAN Technology

You can actually see a camera connected to over 1,000 ft. of network cable, and several types of Modern LAN equipment, such as for Coax, Single Twisted-Pair Ethernet, CAT3 cable and so on, at the Global Security Operations event ( on August 16 & 17, 2003 at LinkedIn Global Headquarters in Sunnyvale. You’ll be able to explore in-depth what challenges you have that Modern LAN technology could solve.

Ray Bernard, PSP CHS-III, is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities ( In 2018 IFSEC Global listed Ray as #12 in the world’s Top 30 Security Thought Leaders. He is the author of the Elsevier book Security Technology Convergence Insights available on Amazon. Follow Ray on Twitter: @RayBernardRBCS.

© 2023 RBCS

About the Author

Ray Bernard, PSP, CHS-III

Ray Bernard, PSP CHS-III, is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (, a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities. He has been a frequent contributor to Security Business, SecurityInfoWatch and STE magazine for decades. He is the author of the Elsevier book Security Technology Convergence Insights, available on Amazon. Mr. Bernard is an active member of the ASIS member councils for Physical Security and IT Security, and is a member of the Subject Matter Expert Faculty of the Security Executive Council (

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Follow him on Twitter: @RayBernardRBCS.