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Opinion: questions around IP video

At ZeeVee’s events last month in Manchester and London, integrators were asking questions to better understand IP-based video distribution to get ahead of the trend, without significant risk.

ZeeVee’s recent UK events answered many integrator questions about IP technology

The buzz around the integration of networking and traditional AV continues to grow in the European market. While the two have co-existed separately for the last two decades, recent new technology developments have begun to change the perception of how the transition to IP-based video distribution will occur. At ZeeVee’s events last month in Manchester and London, integrators were asking a lot of questions to better understand how to get ahead of the trend, without significant risk. Here is a selection.

What has changed to make video over IP feasible today compared to past efforts?

Two key factors: one is the new technologies, as exemplified by ZeeVee in its ZyPer4k product, which is able to send 1080p and up to 4K video uncompressed over a standard 10G IP network. The other factor is the price competiveness of 10G network switches from a wide range of vendors, which is in turn driving down the overall system pricing. Traditional approaches to sending video over a IP network typically used compression to send HD content over a 1Gb network. With 10Gb network switches, each port is engineered to support a constant flow of data 10Gb all at the same time. This is sufficient bandwidth to not only send uncompressed 1080p content with copy protection, it also can handle 4K content at 60fps. This is more bandwidth than most current AV switchers available today, and costs less per port.

How difficult is it to set up and program IP switches compared to a traditional AV switcher?

The majority of AV matrix switchers require programming of each port (and the device attached) in the software language provided by the vendor. By contrast, the software set-up for most Level 3 Managed IP switches is quite fast and easy – similar to how today’s home routers are set up by consumers. For example, instead of programming each port on a switch, the integrator turns on a ‘snooping’ feature in the switch software that automatically senses and installs new devices attached to the network.

One other note – IP network switch ports can be used for either a source or a display, effectively eliminating the input/output matrix limitations of the traditional AV switcher.

What special cabling is needed to support 4K over long distances with IP distribution?

Because the data being sent over these cables are standard IP packets, no additional certification other than the standard Cat6a or standard single/multimode fibre cables are required. This is different from many of the major brand AV switchers, which use the same cable structure but often require you to use their own brand of cable since the information being sent is not actual IP packets. This means IP cable costs are typically significantly less than the cost of vendor certified AV cable, and can be used for data transmission on the network as well.

How much non-video data can be sent over the IP video network?

Some IP solutions, such as our ZyPer4K, sport a 1Gb network port that can used to support wireless access point distribution, voice over IP, videoconferencing, and data feeds to digital signage players. This is a significant increase from the traditional 100Mb limitation on AV switchers, and opens new opportunities for improved designs.

IP-based systems can also be monitored with standard programs such as Remedy, to ensure the devices are online. While the event generated many questions, the adoption of 4K and lower cost 10Gb network switches, most integrators should continue to learn more on how to gain an advantage using the latest IP technology.

Rob Muddiman is EMEA sales director at ZeeVee.

ZeeVee IP video distribution