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Having been involved with digital microwave radio for years I was surprised to learn recently of the bad press wireless closed-circuit television cameras often receive.(see Blog Post from the Home Security Cameras CCTV Video Surveillance Blog)
I’ve been involved in projects where we’ve used digital radios to connect many HDTV and radio station studios to their transmitter sites – in the broadcast industry known as STL, or studio-transmitter links. If its good enough for them surely its good enough to convey images of lobbies, parking lots and raccoons raiding dumpsters?
I believe a lot of bad, and mediocre, experiences are the result of a couple of issues. Many wireless CCTV cameras and systems use composite video imposed on an analog FM carrier in the upstream and low-rate serial data in the downstream for PTZ.
Compared to digital radios, these are at a big disadvantage when it comes to maximum transmit power, forward error correction and overall bandwidth. Enter digital cameras with kluged WiFi radios built in, and all the shortcomings that go along with them, to provide the wireless experience. A lot of low-cost wireless cameras are aimed at the consumer market and become re-marketed as professional solutions. Professional they most certainly are not.
There are some fantastic CCTV cameras available now with light processing and resolution better than the human eye and most use Ethernet or PoE. These can work wirelessly every bit as good as a hard-wired solution, but the wireless transceivers have to be up for the job. Putting a low-cost wireless system on a $1,000+ CCTV camera doesn’t represent good value and will become the obvious weakest link in the chain – usually painfully apparent when its needed the most.
Thankfully, the better broadband radios are very much up to the task of today’s CCTV and security needs. The hardware is purpose built for these applications, they have much greater bandwidth & provisions for properly managing it, they are PoE and can be powered from the same switch as the camera, they can work into areas that are non line-of-sight, the reliability & security are have improved to the point where they equal or better than wired solutions.
The demand for greater bandwidth in video is easy to predict whether it is to keep pace with ever improving image resolutions or greater demands from the legal system when used for investigations and evidence that will stand up in court.
Thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/takomabibelot/ for the image