The evolving sophistication and range of video surveillance, security and communications systems — and the increased data loads required by each — continues to drive the use of fiber optic networks for these applications. According to the Guide to Fiber Optics from the Fiber Optics Association (FOA), long distance or exterior applications increasingly call for fiber cabling as most of these systems are designed to be used over distances and speeds that preclude anything but fiber. The FOA adds that surveillance systems continue to proliferate in buildings, especially governmental, banking or other buildings that are considered high security risks.

While coax connections are common in short links and structured cabling advocates say you can run cameras limited distances on Cat 5E or Cat 6, fiber continues to become a much more common choice for security systems. Network-centric security solutions like video surveillance systems and access control require two types of connections: copper or fiber optic cabling to provide IP data connectivity, and copper cabling to provide power for device operations. As the standardization of Ethernet and PoE with category cable has improved, the distribution of centralized power and data communications from the head-end network switches and power supplies has increased, and installations costs have dropped.

There are several solutions available to extend the distances of PoE network links, including media converters that accommodate most any combinations of coax, UTP, Ethernet and fiber infrastructure. And while the 328 ft. maximum distance for Ethernet and PoE connections has essentially remained unchanged for more than 30 years, manufacturers like Altronix offer solutions that dramatically increase the distances for Ethernet connectivity using fiber optic cables. In fact, fiber optics can accommodate great distances for 10/100/1000 Ethernet connections, with 50-micron OM3 laser-optimized fiber solutions rated for up to 550 meters (1804 feet).

Media converters are now commonly used to integrate copper network equipment and fiber. Since DC power cannot be conducted over fiber, PoE media converters using composite cabling provide the ideal solution to extend network distances via fiber to remote IP cameras. Such solutions can help integrators build their network from scratch or expand existing networks by allowing organizations to leverage existing infrastructure or supplement legacy cabling with fiber all while supporting various system protocols and data rates.

Download Altronix’s free whitepaper, IP & PoE for Long Distance Applications, for a deeper dive into the technologies driving this trend.