Going Farther with Cable Infrastructure
Data Transmission Long Distance
By the late 1980’s, IP standards had improved to the point that devices could be reliably connected over distances up to 328 feet using Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cables – and these cables could also carry power in the form of PoE (Power Over Ethernet), allowing for cost-efficient system installations with only a minimal need for electricians. To really deliver on the promises of the rapidly developing network technologies, fast and reliable connectivity was needed that could span even greater distances.
The advent of structured cabling replaced the messy approach of point-to-point cabling, which meant every piece of hardware used its own cable literally running cable from point-to-point. Structured cabling systems came into use and are now the best solution for business networks looking to accommodate the rising need for speed and more bandwidth. It also helps to future-proof your business by facilitating any new hardware that may be added to the network and the need for increased data analytics and storage increases. The combination of upgraded PoE standards that allow for increased power levels and composite cables that include both copper conductors and fiber optics has revolutionized the breadth of potential system deployments while delivering higher performance and controlling installation costs.
The Key Technologies
This revolution in networked security and communication system deployment distances depends on the combined effect of three key technologies: Increased Power Over Network Cabling:
The first PoE standard (802.3af) only provided for up to 12.95 watts of useable power at the end of a 328 ft. cable run, but it was a breakthrough that allowed for “single cable installations” of networked devices. The newest IEEE PoE standard (802.3bt) increases the maximum power to 90 watts over standard network cabling, supporting the use of higher-powered devices, and importantly, greater distances to the powered devices.
The higher wattage available in the newest PoE standard also means that a single cable connection can provide enough power to energize a remote power source to support one or more networked devices. New solutions like Tango from Altronix delivers 12 VDC and 24 VDC simultaneously to power access control and security devices from any 802.3bt PoE Source using a CAT-6 or higher cable. This provides tremendous savings by leveraging low-voltage installation methods, eliminating the need for an electrician and dedicated conduit and wire runs.
Extended Data Transmission Distances with Fiber
To break through the 328-foot limitation for UTP data transmission, manufacturers turned to fiber optic cables. Optical fibers are ideal for high bandwidth distributed systems because of their extensive data-carrying capabilities and low losses that allow for transmission distances measured in meters/kilometers. As an added benefit, fiber cable systems are immune to some of the issues that plague copper transmission systems.
Every networked device requires both power and IP data connectivity. Composite copper/fiber cables are an elegant solution that maximizes connectivity options and future use potential while minimizing installation costs and complexity. A wide range of standard and custom types are available to meet specific current needs while often including extra unused (“dark”) fiber conductors (either single-mode or multi-mode) to provide for future growth or evolving technologies.
New data transmission solutions like Altronix’s new NetWay Spectrum Fiber/Ethernet Solutions take fiber and power to a new level. These units can be deployed with conventional single or multi-mode fiber, as well as composite cable that combines fiber with power to simultaneously deliver both, power and data. For example, if a large sports facility wants to add video surveillance to improve security awareness of activities over a larger area such as the public plazas between the parking areas and the facility entrances, this would be the optimum solution. It is important to note that this system would be separate from the existing surveillance system that covers the internal areas and would have backup power to ensure continuous operation.
Large sports facilities have incorporated video security surveillance systems as part of their risk mitigation strategies. Not only do these systems offer security monitoring and detection but also a package of predictive analytics that might provide a preemptive capability. Providing surveillance poses a challenge for traditional category Ethernet cabling such as Cat6 because of the long transmission distances. The longstanding alternative, providing power at multiple locations in the system, along with backup power, would significantly raise the project costs.
However, the use of composite cabling that employs a combination of single pair copper and fiber optics solves this challenge by supporting the longer required distances with larger wire gauge copper to transmit power and fiber to transmit data. The delivered power is strong enough to energize remote power sources and hardened switches housed in outdoor enclosures, which in turn can power and relay data from the security cameras powered by standard PoE. This entire system can be installed by low voltage technicians, maximizing project efficiency.
Centralizing the power source for all the IP-cameras and switches in the system at a single point is an additional advantage. With one source for all power, the ability to “back-up” the power supply can be readily provided by the installation of an appropriately sized Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS). The same approach could be used when deploying cameras and emergency phone stations in large and remote parking lots, campus walkways and outbuildings, or to support distributed video surveillance systems in high-rise multi-story buildings.
How to Plan Remote PoE+ and IP Installations
The importance of structured cabling solutions that support video, voice, data management applications and any other tool a business might use can’t be overstated. While different types of cables support different functions, they all work together in the infrastructure. To plan an installation that takes advantage of these new power and connectivity methods, system designers will need to account for these basic parameters:
- Number and location of planned remote devices
- Aggregate PoE requirements for all devices to be centrally powered
- Cabling plan – “ring” or point to point
- Distance(s) from head-end power to remote IP/PoE switch(es)
- Environmental Requirements for outdoor devices – waterproof/dust tight- IP66 rated
- If central powered, selection of
- power supply output (wattage)
- Number of SFP modules and
- connections required
- Connection to existing IPU
- Power backup requirements
When these factors are collected, designers can make use of available design tools to calculate the required wire gauges and other design elements. An example of one such calculator is available on the Altronix website.
New power and data transmission solutions are available to extend the distance and capacities of all types of cabling infrastructure. These new remote power sources, power controllers, power distribution modules, and other devices support the latest power and communication protocols. Consider these new capabilities for your next project, and feel free to contact Altronix if we can be of assistance.
Author: Ronnie Pennington, Director of Sales for the Americas