Expectations of the Modern Office Environment

Updated May, 22, 2020

In today’s society sharing video in real time, “FaceTiming” or “Zooming” with friends and family, live collaboration is something that everyone can accomplish with their personal cellular devices. This creates the expectation that collaborative video conferencing capabilities should be available in the office workspace in a reliable and secure manner.

These expectations have created the need for IT and Facilities to provide collaboration spaces and huddle rooms that enable video, audio, and presentations to be shared in real time with zero latency. These may also include the desire for integration with Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, BlueJeans, Go to meeting and Zoom – Just to name a few.

AV over IP is the result of the inevitable convergence of AV systems with IT networks. Rather than transporting audio and video signals over HDMI and HDBaseT cables, audio and video signals are now being encoded, sent over the network cables, and decoded back to HDMI before being delivered to the destination and this provides some key benefits.

Important Considerations of AV over IP

Switching – With AV over IP you are no longer limited by the amount of inputs and outputs on a matrix switch, the only limitations you will face is the number of ports on your network. This allows you to send any source to any destination within the network.

Distance – Traditional category cables have a limit of 328 feet and HDMI cables have a limit of 25 feet. With AV over IP, distance is no longer an issue.

Installation – By building on a network that is already in place, the necessity to create short- and long-range cabling systems is reduced dramatically, which means less construction to the ceilings, walls, or floors. This saves time and money.

Standards – Standards based packetization schemes provide compatibility with IP switches for the transmission of audiovisual data over the network. While some AV over IP products do use proprietary packetizations schemes that still work with IP Networks and standard IP switches, they will not interact with other AV products.

Security – A concern for many who are considering the switch to an AV over IP based system is security. Most AV over IP products provide encryption technologies. Encryption can take place when the signals are encoded or on the video stream itself. Encrypting the encoder/ decoder will prevent hackers from  access the box and encrypting the video stream will make it difficult to see the content, should it be intercepted. Security concerns may also revolve around the vulnerability of certain applications such as Zoom, who have been working towards fixing security issues during it’s rise in popularity.

When is it appropriate to use AV over IP for distribution of audiovisual content?

While the benefits of AV over IP are predominant, it doesn’t mean that every organization should utilize this methodology for distribution in every room. The decision of whether to implement a traditional AV system or an AV over IP system comes down to costs and required functionality for both short and long term. You must consider what your organization needs now and what they are going to need. You must weigh the cost of an AV over IP system now and what that cost will be as your AV environments grow and change in the coming years.

In a single room system, you are going to find that distributing your AV signals over IP is going to be more costly to start, but if you plan on growing the environment in the future, it will cost less to add destinations. The opposite is true with a traditional AV system, initially the cost will be lower, but as the destinations grow the cost will rise dramatically. If you foresee your required system functionalities growing over the next few years, then adding an AV over IP solution may be the right direction for you.

– Miles McDonald

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