Video Surveillance: IP Migration for the Mid-Market

July 10, 2014
Using existing cable may be the key to moving these customers to network technology

Recently in an industry blog, the author wrote, “The enterprise market is no longer as attractive as it used to be. The upside was that enterprise was first to transition to IP but now that it is largely done. It is harder to get the easy growth of years past.”

What this says to me is that the large early adopters of IP technology are now fully IP and that the remaining 95 percent of the business is in the hands of mid-market customers who need help in making the transition as well.

Many systems integrators need a little help in easing their mid-sized end-user customers in the transition from analog-based surveillance systems to IP. They really do need a greater variety of choices to accomplish the migration while maintaining a realistic budget. Here are a few angles to consider adding to your sales tool kit in these circumstances.

Complete Cable Replacement

For decades, 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 were installed with coax; and, many of those cable runs are greater than the defacto Ethernet standard of 328 feet — it is more like 500ft on average.

There are a lot of integrators/installers and end-users in the market being told that the only way to lay out an IP video surveillance network is to remove the coax cable and “flood wire” the project with Cat 5/6 structured cabling, and connecting (expensive to install) IDF closets and/or mid-span Ethernet extenders at 328-foot intervals to go the distance. Further, per National Electric Code (NEC), all the old cable has to be removed, which is not very green and basically just another expense.

A Viable Alternative

An alternative to the time-consuming and costly scenario above is to utilize the existing cable — yes, basically whatever is in good shape and available, whether it is coax, UTP or some other copper wire — and use it for the IP migration. There are IP migration transmission systems on the market today that enable installers to take advantage of the extended PoE power and Ethernet distance benefits using that legacy wire.

This robust IP migration technology lets installers approach their customers with a whole new tool kit of migration benefits that include:

  • Project facility can usually stay open during the IP migration process, which means no lost revenue;
  • Using existing legacy cable means they can leverage their original cable investment — no recycling, and it saves on cable and installation cost;
  • Long transmission distances are no problem and thousands of feet are capable with no IDF, main power supply or repeater costs;
  • Use one existing cable to supply IP and PoE connectivity to multiple IP cameras/devices, which again, leverages the original cable investment, saving install time, and wire tray and conduit space.

Leveraging Existing Investment

The flexibility of these IP migration solutions provides cost-effective, simple and seamless migration while avoiding wholesale “forklift upgrades.” If one were to install an entirely new Ethernet infrastructure, the project would be done in one pass, forcing a large expensive, operationally disruptive, flood-wire network retrofit.

Using legacy coax and/or UTP allows the luxury of migrating from analog cameras to IP cameras in the timeframe chosen by the end-user via cable that is already there; thus allowing them to control their budget, and get the surveillance or IP devices deployed when and where they need it without disrupting revenue producing operations.

This is especially important for facilities such as hospitals, prisons, schools, airports, retail establishments and others where downtime must be minimal. Because this technology takes advantage of reusing legacy cable and reduced labor, it can, depending on the application, substantially reduce the cost and implementation time of an IP upgrade.

Any Topology, Any Cable

Native to most building cabling infrastructures is the fact that there have been a wide variety of cabling types and sizes installed over the years. One may think that this is just a mess; others may think it is a resource to be used. This Ethernet-over-any-cable technology allows multi-point 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 one runs into —it’s no problem.

Ethernet Distance Issue

Conventional Ethernet repeaters must be installed every 328 feet. For the installer, if the transmission distance is longer, that typically means IDF closets in odd locations throughout the facility in order to create a proper repeater data/power supply point, which usually involves a lockable closet or NEMA box. A camera at 750 feet requires two to IDFs and Ethernet Extenders.

These Ethernet Extenders and their associated connections all add up to being a potential remote point-of-failure headache and expense. And yes, don’t forget you have to place or supply power at the IDF.

With a hybrid Ethernet solution, as much as 56VDC PoE power is provided from the control room, with up to 50 watts distributed to the IP camera/device end-transmission product. No repeaters are required. Cameras/IP devices can operate from the same UPS as other control room equipment. It’s that simple.

Multiple IP Cameras over One Cable

The typical coax-based IP migration product on the market today is either point-to-point — meaning there is one locally powered 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 receiver hub at the control room, the system’s potential is maximized by supporting multiple remote transceivers and their cameras. The technology leverages one wire run that splits out to supply transmission links to multiple cameras (see diagram below). This results in simple and cost-effective IP camera upgrades with minimal installation labor while fully leveraging the customer’s investment in legacy cable.

No Disruption

Extended distance using any wire and any topology enables incremental migration; thus allowing the end-user’s operations to control the project’s impact on the work schedule. In the case of hospitals for example, this minimizes the disruption of service to patients. Or in a gaming application, it allows gaming tables and machines to operate within the gaming authority’s surveillance guidelines.

These 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. The technology enables more installers to approach an IP migration project with a new set of financial and installation deployment options.

Editor’s Note: This article was adapted from a whitepaper that’s available for free at

Guy Apple is Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Network Video Technologies (NVT). Reach him at (650) 462-8100, ext. 210 or at [email protected]. To request more info about NVT, visit