Wireless: understanding the components and frequency

Wireless: understanding the components and frequency
Wireless technology is increasingly becoming ubiquitous in the video surveillance industry as the customers consider the cost and effectiveness of doing away with cables. At its core, the purpose of this technology is simple, transfer footage from one device to another. However, in its application, things become complex as cameras continue to capture higher quality video and directly impacts the transmission of data.

In a whitepaper, the wireless solutions provider Bearcom points out seven components that are integral to an ideal wireless video surveillance setup. Obviously, it starts with IP cameras. The second component is mesh network nodes. Nodes are connection points in a wireless mesh network. They hold data or links to other nodes and make use of the network to communicate.

The gateway node acts as the point at which a network can communicate with another. This is where connections between devices that may have compatibility issues are done. Another component is Backhaul units. According to Bearcom, “in wireless network technology, a backhaul is used to transmit voice and/or data traffic from a cell site to a switch; for example, from a remote site to a central site.”

Then comes the servers, the computers that manage the networks. Monitoring stations that come next are set up to observe the status of the cameras, alarms and other devices in the network. The final component is the software, that processes the data that is fed into the system. This could be a basic video management software or could include advanced analytics solution.

While this provides a basic picture of the wireless system, the key here is to understand the frequency that is used to transmit data. Ethernet radios are at the core of this technology and they operate at different frequencies. There are frequencies that start from 4.9 GHz and go up to 80 GHz. For instance, there is the spectrum that most Wi-Fi networks operate on at 5.8 GHz, which is modified for use in external environments.

Understanding some basic differences between the frequencies would help systems integrators provide the right solutions to their customers. For instance, the lower the frequency, the higher the distance. For instance, while low frequencies can travel up to five miles or so, the distance that higher frequencies can travel may be restricted to about a single mile.

Some industry experts point out that this distance is no longer an issue in most urban environments because no one wants a camera installed several miles away. Perhaps more significant in this regard is that higher frequencies provide more opportunities to employ more radios and transfer more data because of the wider spectrum that they offer.

Thanks to the growth of smart cities across the globe, outdoor wireless surveillance solutions are seeing more interest. Especially in countries where retrofitting cables could prove to be a hassle, wireless becomes a necessity. Cost is also a major factor in this, as running fiber to every home or building may not be as economical as using wireless systems from a common point.
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