Is Bandwidth a Problem for IP Cameras?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 21, 2009

Integrators often cite bandwidth as a key concern for deploying IP cameras. Let's examine what the potential issues are and where they may be applicable:

  • You do not have enough bandwidth for IP video (see our bandwidth tutorial if you want a review of the basics)

Why might you not have enough?
  • Existing local network is old or antiquated
  • Your local network is fairly new but already has too much traffic
  • You are trying to send IP video over a wide area network (DSL, Cable Modem, T1, E1, DS3, etc.)

What might block you from solving this problem?
  • It is too expensive to upgrade your internal network
  • It is not possible or extremely expensive to upgrade the wide area network
  • It is costly/complex to implement traffic engineering

We have 3 cases to examine:

Upgrade the Internal Network

You have dozens of IP cameras in a building/facility but the existing network does not have enough bandwidth to support IP cameras. The simplest solution is to simply deploy a secondary network to support the IP cameras. This is almost invariably cheaper than deploying analog cameras unless the cameras are very close (under 100 meters) to the server/headend. Slightly more complicated but perhaps cheaper is upgrading the existing network (say from 100Mb/s to 1000Mb/s).

Upgrade the Wide Area Network

You have IP cameras in a building or campus and want to stream those cameras to a central location for storage. This I think is just not feasible. Technically it can be done but financially it is rarely justifiable. In most countries, the cost of 10MB/s WAN bandwidth is very expensive - in the range of $3,000 to $30,000 USD per month. At that price point, it is simply cheaper to store video from IP cameras at each local site.

This is only a problem for IP video to the extent that if it was solved it would benefit IP over analog. However, it is certainly not a shortcoming of IP.

Implement Traffic Engineering

You have a converged network where you are sending corporate data, voice over IP phone calls and IP video surveillance. To ensure that IP video does not ruin phone calls or disrupt important data transfers, you want to implement advanced network capabilities to ensure all services work without interfering with each other. This can certainly be expensive both in deploying equipment with these capabilities and dedicated trained engineers to configure/optimize them (see Cisco's webinar on this). If you are deploying a large IP video system with hundreds of cameras across long distances, this is probably still cheaper than building out an analog CCTV system. If the number of cameras are smaller and the distances are shorter, you may solve this by deploying a secondary network simply dedicated to IP video surveillance.

Discussion

This should be an interesting discussion. I just wanted to open with some general observations. There are lots of other aspects to consider. Please expand, disagree and debate this.

Related Reports on Bandwidth

CODEC Guide 2016 on Nov 30, 2016
CODECs are core to surveillance, with names like H.264, H.265, and MJPEG commonly cited. How do they work? Why should you use them? What issues may...
Longse vs Dahua and Hikvision Tested on Nov 16, 2016
For many, even $100 cameras are too expensive. That is where spam king Longse comes in with their relentless offer of ~$20 cameras. In our past...
Major Manufacturers Dropping MJPEG on Nov 04, 2016
MJPEG has hung on for years, still in use in some systems despite H.264's dominance for the better part of the past decade. However, now some...
Sony 35mm Super Low Light Camera Tested on Oct 31, 2016
Sony is making a big push for their SNCVB770 camera, touting its low light capabilities that they claim can deliver true color in pitch black...
60% Lower Bandwidth, 'Video Anywhere' - Digital Barriers TVI / EdgeVis on Oct 28, 2016
Streaming video over low bandwidth, wireless connections often results in stalled video, broken up video or significant video delays. But Digital...
Mobile VMS Top Integrator Problems on Oct 24, 2016
In an IPVM survey, integrators report 4 problems most consistently with using mobile VMS applications: Network setup / cybersecurity...
Sony and Samsung Breaking VBR on Oct 21, 2016
For years, users have known variable bitrate (VBR) as one thing only: bandwidth varies, compression stays the same. This is not an accident but an...
4 Biggest Low Light Problems on Oct 10, 2016
100 integrators told IPVM what their biggest problems were with low light images. The most commonly cited themes were: Limited IR Range Uneven...
Samsung 'Q' Low-Cost 1080p Dome Tested on Oct 10, 2016
The most competitive part of the market is for low-cost cameras. Hanwha Techwin / Samsung has released its new low-cost Q series to go after this...
Axis Zipstream 2 Tested on Oct 03, 2016
Smart codecs are one of the big trends in the industry now. Axis was the first manufacturer to launch a smart codec, releasing Zipstream in Spring...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hikvision vs Dahua Mobile Apps Tested on Dec 07, 2016
With smartphone use and low-cost video recorders surging, many user's main interface to their surveillance system is their phone. With mobile video...
Paxton Drops US Reps, Plans Major Expansion on Dec 07, 2016
Paxton is gearing up to make a big run at  US access control success. The first step they have made is to cut all US Rep Firms, in anticipation of...
Axis Partner Elder Care Video Analytics (Smartervision) on Dec 07, 2016
Can video analytics be used to improve the care of the elderly? Axis and a video analytics startup, Smartervision, are working together to do so....
Power Drill Selection Guide on Dec 06, 2016
Boring holes is a basic part of running cables for most security system projects. To do so, you will need to choose the right drills for various...
Milestone Favorability Results on Dec 06, 2016
In our second installment of manufacturer favorability results (first was Pelco), we turn to Milestone. 100+ integrators rated and explained what...
XiongMai Master Password List Emailed By Chinese Spammer on Dec 05, 2016
XiongMai created an international uproar as their devices drove massive botnet attacks of major Internet sites. After pledging to recall cameras...
Hikvision Cloud Security Vulnerability Uncovered on Dec 05, 2016
A security researcher uncovered a critical vulnerability in Hikvision's global cloud servers. This vulnerability allowed an attacker to remotely...
Door Operators Access Control Tutorial on Dec 05, 2016
Doors equipped with door operators, specialty devices that automate opening and closing, tend to be quite complex. The mechanisms needed to...
Pelco Favorability Results on Dec 02, 2016
This is the first in a series of studies of manufacturer favorability. 100+ integrators rated and explained their views of each manufacturer. We...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact