Mark S. Wilson, Infinova Vice President, Marketing
The benefits of fiber transmission (small size, light weight, high bandwidth, low loss, noise immunity, transmission security) are known to integrators and have solidly established fiber optics as a major resource for signal transmission. But what integrators may not realize is that there are many, often unknown, innovative ways to leverage fiber.
What do integrators already know? Since high-performance surveillance systems require greater reliability and increased throughput, the leaps forward in CCTV system technology have increased fiber optic use. Integrators must design systems that get more signals from the camera end to the monitor end over greater distances and in harsher environments. Most integrators understand that a fiber optic transmission system helps in such applications by uniquely preserving the quality of video signals, providing a high level of security, transmitting at higher bandwidths and lower losses, and operating at distances five times greater than coaxial cable.
It is also accepted by integrators that using fiber optics helps them avoid problems with electro-magnetic interference (EMI), radio frequency interference (RFI), cross-talk or ground loops. Integrators and their customers don’t have to worry about short circuits, sparks or fire hazards with fiber. In addition, the large signal-carrying capacity of optical fibers makes it possible to provide not only many more signals, but also more sophisticated signals than could never be handled by a comparable amount of copper wire.
However, there are some new benefits of fiber that integrators might find helpful. That begins with training.
Learning the electronics side of fiber is quite easy and most companies that provide fiber optic transceivers and receivers hold such classes, usually taking only a half day. The training revolves around termination and how the cable is installed. Integrators don’t need to learn about the laying of cable. Almost every integrator in the industry promoting fiber subs that job out to those companies owning backhoes and trenching machines and that do such projects day in and day out.
8 ways to get more business promoting fiber
1.) Although fiber might have been touchy and expensive in the past, once trained, integrators can start leveraging how easy it is to terminate fiber. To cleave a fiber optic cable, installers used to need very expensive equipment. Today, though, termination kits costing around $500 produce the required, perfect 90 degree angle clean cut. The integrator simply attaches the fitting and the cable is attached to the network. It’s that easy.
2.) Since fiber creates the highest rack density, promote fiber to stuff customers’ racks. By placing 68 videos into one 3U rack, integrators can show their customers how efficiently fiber uses rack space.
3.) Put the fiber optic transceiver right into the camera. This is especially helpful in projects such as parking lots in which cameras are mounted on poles. The installer simply runs the fiber cable up the pole and attaches it directly to the camera. This requires no splicing and no junction box. On the other end, the cable runs to the encoder for putting the video onto the network. Such installations also overcome the distance limitations of UTP/CAT 5 cabling.
4.) To scale solutions, most integrators are unaware that they can go directly from a stand-alone modem to a rack mount approach by reusing the same fiber card. Here’s why that’s important. As a project grows, it will need rack mount instead of wall mount equipment to handle greater capacity. The fiber modem investment can be retained by moving it directly into a rack mount cage. No other equipment needs to be bought.
5.) Show customers how they can conserve their dark or unused fiber. It’s a big concern with many IT people. Because the original cost of trenching and laying of fiber was so expensive, they put in more fiber than necessary. Over the years, as more and more applications started eating up bandwidth, the IT department has had to start using this dark fiber. Now, they’re afraid of using it up and having to go to great expense to lay more.
Since it is possible to send different frequencies of light over the same fiber, integrators can let the IT department know that they can transmit up to 32 videos over a single strand of fiber. Using a technique called wavelength division multiplexing or WDM, integrators can demonstrate how they can send four channels of video and bi-directional data over a single multi-mode strand of cable instead of the usual two strands. That means each strand of fiber can do more, saving the dark fiber. The IT department will appreciate how this procedure will free up their remaining fiber for other purposes.
6.) At large facilities, such as ports and sports complexes, integrators can show their customers the benefits of using matrix switchers. For instance, ruggedized PTZ dome cameras can be directly viewed and controlled through matrix switchers. By using direct control, integrators can guarantee video quality and real-time PTZ control of the cameras with no noticeable delay between the time operators move their joystick and the time the camera responds. Since each facility can be a long distance from the central control room, fiber optic transceivers overcome the distance problems in connecting all the matrix switchers together. The fiber provides crystal clear video while, from a financial point of view, using a single fiber for multiple cameras results in a significant reduction of installation costs versus traditional coax cable.
7.) Integrators can also help their customers build a 100-point mode. This provides a high volume of cameras with quite elegant throughput. To do so, the integrator links up to ten input boxes, each box having ten inputs for a grand total of 100 inputs in all. Likewise, there can also be ten output boxes with ten outputs per box. As a result of building this fiber-based mode, at any time the operator can select any ten of the 100 cameras for viewing.
8.) Lastly, integrators using fiber can now build custom solutions. Consider surveillance for an area where explosives are stored where the customer needs four videos with four RS-232 connections and four contact closures running on a single strand of fiber. Such a product is not a standard in any catalog but it can be custom-created so integrators can say “yes” to this type of requirement.
Start leveraging fiber
The future is bright for fiber optics, which is quickly becoming the preferred mode of audio, video and data transmission. Not only does it save money and time during installation, it also keeps its integrity much longer, provides greater security and is also less prone to damage of all kinds than copper cable. Fiber-optic cable is also versatile and cost effective and it scales easily with an organization. In any new surveillance system, fiber should be considered for transmitting images, audio and other data.