The IP Side of AV-over-IP

Mike Maniscalco | Jun 18, 2020
Cable management 450The second in a series on AV-over-IP

Modern IP networks and video compression enable AV-over-IP to be efficient, reliable, scalable, and cost-effective. AV-over-IP technologies have matured over the last few years and are becoming a compelling alternative for distributing high-quality content. In a networked world, IP switching infrastructure, combined with an AV-over-IP encoder and decoder, replaces the need for traditional matrix switching hardware.
A key system which enables AV-over-IP to be a viable distribution solution is the IP network. The IP network has become the digital foundation of the home and now offers enterprise-level features and performance at an attainable price. While it was once unimaginable that a home network would support bandwidth demands such as a 4K uncompressed video stream requiring 12Gbps, today’s networking equipment combined with lossless compression technologies have now made this possible.
Within the home, gigabit networking is now a standard for installations large and small. Additionally, more complex systems are beginning to introduce 10-Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) networks to meet the demands of next-generation Wi-Fi systems and high-quality streaming requirements. As streaming traffic continues to make up the majority of peak internet traffic, it is imaginable that data center and critical switching infrastructure equipment, such as 25GbE or even 40GbE, will eventually come down to a price point that is justifiable for discerning residential clients.

It is hard to have a conversation about the enabling factors of AV-over-IP without discussing network protocols. 

The emergence of AV-over-IP has also allowed network cabling to be “cool” again as client requirements and installation environments put new demands on cable infrastructure. Copper and fiber optic cabling are all vital components in high-performance AV-over-IP systems. For instance, some systems may require 10GbE performance over longer distances, which copper cannot handle. At the same time, other installations may only have Cat 5e cable, which is incapable of 10GbE. Integrators should pay careful attention to the current and future demands of AV-over-IP systems and not only evaluate what cabling to specify, but also consider the final qualifications of installed cables.
It is hard to have a conversation about the enabling factors of AV-over-IP without discussing network protocols. Many Layer-3 switches offer support for streaming protocols such as: Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP), Internet Gateway Management Protocol (IGMP), IGMP Snooping, Real-Time Protocol (RTP), and Virtual Local Area Networks (VLAN). Depending on the AV-over-IP solution, each of these protocols plays an important role and enables the use of standard network switches.
Robust network infrastructure along with a suite of modern protocols now allow an AV-over-IP solution to compete with other distribution technologies. As the network switches continue to be more capable and cost-effective, it is reasonable to expect AV-over-IP to become an even more acceptable option for high-quality content distribution. In the next article, we will discuss video compression and touch on various considerations essential for designing an AV-over-IP system.

Interested in more? Here's the first article in the series, and you can find coursework in this subject at the all new CEDIA Academy here.