IPTV vs IP Video SurveillanceAuthor: John Honovich, Published on Jun 09, 2009
Not all video is the same. Indeed, ideal solutions for one video application can be a waste and completely inappropriate for another application.
The Growth of Video
Solving IP video problems is critical since IP video growth drives the growth of IP networking. IP Video is projected to be 90% of all traffic in the near future. It has prompted the CEO of Cisco to suggest video is the next killer app.
Video Application Differ
The challenge is that IP video consists of a variety of applications - many of which have radically different requirements. For instance, a solution that is ideal for IPTV or video conferencing can be overly complex and costly for IP Video Surveillance without materially improving performance.
Why is this Important?
I routinely see vendors try to leverage their solutions across different applications. This often fails to gain market acceptance as the vendor or specifier does not recognize the differences in need between the applications.
This is especially important for IP video surveillance where many vendors are advocating the use of very complex and expensive solutions optimized for IPTV and video conferencing. These solutions are fundamentally poorly designed for the needs of IP video surveillance. To avoid costly mistakes, video surveillance users must appreciate the differences involved.
Substitutes for IPTV
IPTV is an entertainment application. The carrier provides numerous channels of video, available on-demand for viewers to watch over an IP network.
IPTV faces many mature substitutes: Broadcast TV (over the air), Cable TV, satellite, on-demand from websites (like Hulu).
Because of so many competitors, IPTV must work very well and at low price points. The cost for a consumer to switch is fairly trivial so it's easy for a consumer to stop using IPTV unless they are very satisfied
Substitutes for IP Video Surveillance
IP Video Surveillance is a security application. A custom network of cameras are deployed at the facilities of the organization purchasing the solution.
IP Video Surveillance has no real substitutes (outside of hiring guards to watch). You can throw out your existing system and buy a new one but that requires significant investment and time to deploy. Because you are monitoring your own facilities, there's no easy way for competitors to get around the cost of setting up at your facilities.
Contrast in Customer Expectations
Because there are so many direct substitutes for IPTV, customers demand far higher quality performance than they do of their IP Video Surveillance. The issue is not whether high quality entertainment video is more important than high quality surveillance video. The reality is simple that it is far less expensive to deliver an additional stream of entertainment video than it is to add a new surveillance camera.
Requirements for IPTV
Given the numerous substitutes, customers demand IPTV deliver:
- Rapid retrieval of new video streams (under 1 second is common)
- Rare to no interruptions of video streams
- Rare to no degradation of video quality
- Vast variety of channels / videos available
- At a low cost (under $100 USD per month or even less for all of this)
- Capturing video from various locations (dozens to thousands)
- Capturing video under various environmental and lighting conditions
- Transmitting captured video to servers for recording
- Making video accessible to few simultaneous viewers
- Keeping total installed costs low
- Producing Video: In IPTV, video production is irrelevant but in IP video surveillance it is crucial. This is why camera companies are so powerful in the video surveillance market in driving the overall IP video solution.
- Simultaneous Viewing: The applications are opposite here. While IPTV needs to support large-scale simultaneous viewing of video, in IP video surveillance, this is rarely necessary.
- Quality of Video: While IPTV users would quickly quit if the video quality was not perfect, IP video surveillance users accept routine issues with quality and reliability (few other options).
- Economies of Scale: Massive investments in network infrastructure for IPTV are paid by large-scale audiences watching the same set of video streams. By contrast, any investment for IP video surveillance must be absorbed alone by the organization installing the IP video surveillance system.
- Multicasting: Since so many people will be watching the same video stream, multicasting the stream reduces bandwidth costs dramatically. If 100 people want to watch the same show, instead of sending the streams 100 times, the stream can be sent once and then replicated close to the viewer's location.
- Quality of Service: Networks will be designed to detect and enforce quality levels of video streams. Network equipment will delay less time sensitive applications like e-mail and file transfers to make sure that video does not suffer delay or quality reduction.
- Transcoding: To handle a variety of networks (e.g., mobile), dedicated devices are deployed to transcode video to lower bit rates.
- End to end management: To accomplish the elements above, vendors routinely develop and provide an end to end solution so that they can tightly control video performance.
- Multicast is only used in a small fraction of IP video surveillance deployments. With so few simultaneous viewers, it's generally not needed and rarely worth the additional cost.
- Quality of Service: To maintain high quality surveillance video, recorders are placed close to surveillance cameras and connected via high speed LANs that provide more than enough bandwidth. These networks are often dedicated. As such, more sophisticated quality of service measures are routinely avoided.
- Transcoding: Video recorders routinely provide built-in frame dropping or transcoding to manage viewing over low speed connections.
- Quality loss or delay is generally accepted by end users, reducing the need for enhancing IP networks.
Different Cost Structures
Certainly, the different network designs result in significant variants in cost. Where network upgrades to support IPTV can run hundreds of thousands (for specialized equipment and certified engineers), IP video surveillance can be deployed with fairly minor network costs.
Indeed, adding in the the costs and design of an IPTV system for a IP video surveillance application can drastically increase the total cost of surveillance project. Since the added benefits rarely justify this cost, such designs will generally be unattractive.
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