How Often is Coax Reused for IP Cameras?

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Feb 21, 2012

Rather than run new cabling for IP cameras, if an analog camera is being replaced it is possible to reuse coax cabling with an Ethernet over coax (EoC) converter. These have been commercially available for years but how many actually use them and how often? As part of our Winter 2012 integrator survey, we sought to find out when and when integrators were using EoC adapters.

Results

The vast majority of respondents (89%) are reusing existing coax less than 33% of the time. A further 10% used them occassionally, between 33% and 66% of the time, while only 1% used them more than 66% of the time.

Here is what it look like graphically:

Cost vs. New UTP

By far, cost was the number one reason given against using EoC products.  

  • "Never. The cost/benefit does not balance out. We always run new UTP. Its much cheaper and more reliable."
  • "Our customers tend to be smaller, therefore the cost of running new cable is less than on large sites."
  • "Not that often. Usually if its not a long run its more cost effective to run new wire. Our company has also been running Cat5e with baluns for over 5 years for analog systems so any existing systems we have installed are easily upgraded to IP."
  • "Adapters are costly. Plus to run a Cat 5e is typically not much trouble for most small businesses and homes."
  • "Never. We find that the cost of running new network cable is usually pretty close to the cost of the converters. It might be a bit more expensive, but we feel that added cost is worth it when having a true network infrastructure."

Historically, EoC adapters have been in the range of $400 per pair. With an average cable drop costing under $200, it is normally less expensive to run new cables, instead. Only recently have adapters been released which are below this level, in the range of $200 per pair, close to the cost of pulling new cable. Users may see our overview of reusing existing coax and the Altronix eBridge for more detailed information on these topics.

Warranty Issues

Warranty was also cited as an issue by our integrators. Typically, integrators offer warranties on newly-installed systems. Existing cabling is often excluded from warranty, however, which some customers may have issue with. New UTP installed by certified installers, on the other hand, is often certified for 15 years and up, sometimes its lifetime, by the manufacturer. Users may prefer to install new cable for this reason alone.

  • "We always try to use new cable. Old cable does that, get's old. Since we warranty systems for 5 years, it's one less variable to contend with if problems arise."
  • "There are also potential warranty issues when using legacy coax. You will still be blamed for outages if the old coax fails."
  • "I like to run new data if appropriate involves less return trips and warranty issues."

Quality/Accessibility

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For those who were using EoC adapters 33-66% of the time, the two main factors were quality of existing cables, and how accessible they are. In cases where there is no access to pull new cables, or it will take extra time, EoC becomes more attractive. Quality of the original install is a key factor, as well, as bandwidth will be reduced if existing cables are low quality or damaged.

  • "Now this depends on the job, most customers tend to have the attitude 'We don't care how it's done as long as it's working' - Provided the cable is sound we re-use the cable and usually fit the equipment around the existing cables. BNC connectors are usually used if the cable is already present. If the previous job was a exceptional hack job then the cables will have to be replaced."
  • "Because sometimes there isn't any ability to reinstall cable for IP cameras and when coax has good quality for use we install adapters. We use Comnet."
  • "If analog cameras are to be replaced directly by IP, it is often difficult to find a pathway to a network switch. The Veracity HighWire products have been useful in these situations."

Trends by Segments

Unlike many of our survey questions, these responses were not affected by different demographics, such as average system size, tendancy towards IP or analog cameras, or location. None of these factors had any measurable effect on responses.

Future

We expect a moderate increase in reuse of existing coaxial cables, primarily driven by Altronix's super low cost new offerings and likely responses by competitors. Nonetheless, given the cost of adding converters and potential risks of old cable, we suspect reusing coaxial cable will continue to be overall a niche application.

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