A Lifeline for Analog Surveillance: HDoC

Jan. 15, 2015
HD over Coax provides a new and viable alternative to switching to IP

In the video world, image truly is everything. When IP video technology burst onto the surveillance scene nearly 20 years ago, many experts began surmising about the days left for its older, grainier, lower-resolution predecessor — analog.

Contrary to what many of those experts may have expected all those years ago, however, the rise of HD IP video has not yet spelled the end of the legacy technology. In some cases, in fact, the rise of IP has not squashed analog video but instead spurred the development of alternative, competing analog technologies, such as Honeywell’s Performance Series High Quality Analog solution, slated to release later this year, that also offer sharp, high-resolution images.

Analog is most certainly still a viable technology, and 2015 may be the year the security industry sees the rise of one of the biggest analog innovations in recent history: HD over Coax.

High-definition over Coax (HDoC) technology uses existing analog coaxial cabling to deliver high-definition video via an analog infrastructure. As the vast majority of video surveillance systems are based on analog, this provides a significant opportunity to retrofit existing low-resolution analog systems utilizing existing cabling infrastructures. The latest technology enables customers to incorporate 720p or 1080p high-definition analog cameras to their existing analog systems, providing an ideal launching point for upselling opportunities.

While there is no question that interest in IP video will continue to grow, the irony is that interest in IP may very well lead to some analog sales for customers who want higher-quality images but lack the finances to afford an IP upgrade.

A Viable Alternative for Installers and End-Users

There are several reasons why HDoC may make sense for certain integrators as opposed to IP video.

One of the primary challenges dealers and integrators have voiced concerns about in the transition to IP is the ease of implementation in terms of replacing large, older systems, and installation in general. Because HDoC’s high-definition cameras function via coaxial cabling, there is no need to rip and replace existing analog infrastructure in order to upgrade cameras. And, the technology does not require any specific, stringent standards on the cable — reducing installation time for the integrator, savings that can be passed down to the end-user.

Integrators can also position high-definition analog cameras as complementary to customers’ existing standard analog cameras, as most HDoC DVRs are backwards-compatible — meaning that both HD and non-HD analog cameras can be managed on the same system. For example, an integrator could approach a previous client with 10 standard analog cameras and suggest the targeted addition of six new high-definition cameras and a corresponding HDoC DVR upgrade. Because of the backwards compatibility, the customer could benefit from high-definition surveillance targeted to areas where increased resolution could be most impactful while seamlessly integrating existing non-HD analog cameras.

Finally, HDoC not only capitalizes on existing cabling, but also on existing dealer skill sets. Despite its popularity, there is still a “fear factor” of IP in the entry level space for many dealers. Most dealers are accustomed to terminating a coaxial cable but may be less familiar with terminating RJ45 IP cables. In order to install IP, they would have to learn new methods. HDoC allows them to leverage their existing skill sets, as installing HDoC is truly the same as installing a standard analog system, while providing advanced, high-resolution technology to their customer base.

Surveillance upgrades using analog infrastructure provide additional benefits to the security professional that may not be present when upgrading to IP cameras. Often, IP system upgrades — particularly in corporate settings — require coordination with IT representatives in order to access the network. Because of capacity demands, the security department may incur additional costs for each IP camera added to the network.

With HDoC, high-definition cameras can be added in tandem to existing non-HD analog cameras and do not interfere with the network in any way, as with traditional analog installations. Additionally, system downtime is minimized as there is no need to install new cabling or perform special terminations when using the existing analog infrastructure. Instead, cameras can be unplugged from the old DVR and plugged directly into the new HDoC DVR, providing a true plug-and-play solution.

What makes HDoC even more competitive in the entry-level market is its pricing. Previously, customers who wanted high definition in the entry space had to choose more-expensive IP cameras. Some end-users may have opted for hybrid analog/IP devices in an attempt to mitigate the hefty costs associated with entry level IP systems. However, in the entry space, these hybrid systems can be quite restrictive, as hybrid NVRs invariably require more power than what those boxes are capable of, restricting the number of cameras operative.

A 16-channel system that is only able to accommodate two to four IP camera additions proves inefficient and may defeat the purpose of high-definition if it does not fully meet the needs of the end-user. HDoC provides an incredibly cost-effective alternative that functions at optimal output levels. HDoC can support 16 cameras across 16 channels — accommodating both existing and upgraded cameras — providing a far more compelling value proposition to consumers.

Going to Market

While the technology presents many benefits, there are some challenges to consider when exploring whether to adopt it. The most obvious is that dealers and integrators will need to rethink their positioning of analog in order to successfully market HDoC to potential users — many of whom have been hearing the aforementioned predictions of analog’s demise and may be leery of buying a system portrayed as outdated. In addition, not all HDoC products are compatible with each other. Clear delineations between which HDoC products and add-ons work with which manufacturer’s technology will be essential for HDoC to succeed in the marketplace.

Additionally, it is not out of the realm of possibility that HDoC could slow the adoption of low-end IP video systems. A suitable alternative to these high-definition IP systems has not previously existed in the marketplace, forcing consumers desiring an entry level high-definition system to install IP. HDoC will fill the void for an alternative and subsequently impact the adoption of low end IP solutions. It is also possible that HDoC will impact the price point for low-end IP systems. HDoC costs are substantially lower than entry IP systems, and market elasticity predicts that pricing of entry-level IP systems will adjust accordingly to remain competitive with HDoC.

Regardless, it is all about giving the customer a better picture quality in the end. In some cases, IP video will be the most-appropriate solution to deliver that picture. But for the time being, the gap in image sharpness between IP and analog may not be as large as some would have expected.

Chris Koetsier is Director of Product Marketing for Honeywell Security. To request more info about the company, please visit www.securityinfowatch.com/10213896.