Wireless IP Camera Setup – Part III

December 1, 2010 by Nathan Miloszewski

In the beginning stages of wireless IP camera setup  there are some simple considerations to be aware of.  As you get deeper into a wireless IP camera system solution other factors such as frequencies, signal strength and security concerns need to addressed.

Wireless networks can be a bit trickier than their wired counterparts so in the final step of this series I’ll talk about the following concerns:

  • Bandwidth
  • Distance and number of cameras
  • Wireless vs. wired networks

Wireless Bandwidth

Wireless transmission of data is more difficult than doing so by Ethernet cable and wireless networks have much lower bandwidth than wired networks.

The method for calculating wireless bandwidth is the opposite of the standard wired system.  If a wired network is rated at 100 Mbps then you will have 100 Mpbs available for uploading data and 100 Mbps for dowloading data.

On the other hand, if a wireless network is rated at 10Mbps, for example, then 10 Mbps is the total amount for both uploading and downloading.  Some networks are setup to divide half the bandwidth for each direction.  IP video surveillance mostly uses bandwidth in the upstream direction so make sure your system allows for use of the whole bandwidth if needed.

Distance & Number of Cameras

Unlicensed frequency is the most common choice for deploying wireless cameras however the power of these unlicensed signals is regulated by the government so distance and obstacles can be problems.   Signals can be absorbed by trees and buildings and may not get through at all if cameras are placed too far away. 

The number of wireless cameras you place in your system will depend on how much bandwidth you have.  According to IPVideoMarket.Info, most systems can support 5 to 15 cameras if they are less than a mile from the receiver.

Wireless Network Designs

Wireless networks can be designed in different ways.  Depending on your application you’ll want to use one of these three types:

  • Point-to-Point Network:  This is the simplest wireless network.  Information is transmitted from one point to another.  Directional antennas are used to provide the highest bandwidth.  The system can be adjusted for low interference and high security.
  • Point-to-Multipoint Network:  The most common type of wireless network.  FM radio stations are an example of this, transmitting signals to many receivers.  The central point in this network uses an omnidirectional antenna and surrounding points use directional antennas (unless it’s a mobile point in which case, omnidirectional is best).
  • Mesh Network:  Network where several connection nodes provide individual and redundant connection paths between one another.  Capable of managing itself, if one node breaks down the system automatically sets up another path between two points.

Wireless vs. Wired Networks

Wireless networks can solve unique problems.  They can be set up quickly and in places where wires are costly to run.  Financially, they can save you lots of money.

So although wireless networks can have limited bandwidth, signal interference, and security issues they do significantly cut down on costly construction projects and they allow you to be more creative with your installation locations.

In short, wired systems are much more reliable and should be your default choice.  However if time, money, or convenience does not allow for a wired system just be sure you understand the risks and plan properly for a wireless solution.

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