DOCSIS was first offered to the market
back in 1997 and this version 3.0 is a real revelation. DOCSIS V3.0 appeared
mid-2006 when CableLabs presented it as a methodology for downstream and
upstream channel bonding. While V3.0 has applications in IPv6, IP multicasting
and AES encryption, for surveillance systems it’s the bandwidth that’s most
appealing. DOCSIS 3.0 can achieve downstream speeds of up to 160 Mbps by
bonding 6 MHz channels together.

Alternatively it can provide up to 120 Mbps of
shared throughput – that’s exciting stuff for CCTV people.

Internet service providers overseas are
offering a range of services built around DOCSIS 3.0, including 50Mbps
downstream and 5Mbps up the pipe for less than $150 a month. It’s a serious
bargain when considered in an historical context. Way back in 1988, a 10Mb T-3
cable modem cost $100,000 a month while today you’ll get 100Mb monthly for just
$5000. But the real news is not what’s on offer right now – it’s the potential
for massive increases in very affordable wideband services in the near future.

Just how accommodating are these
networks likely to be? We’re talking gigabit WANs. It goes without saying that
an affordable gigabit WAN would allow security managers and security
integrators to build and drive their video surveillance solutions in the way that
god intended. No frame rate choking and no need to install a wickedly capable
remote system you can only view at CIF, 1 channel at a time.

But most importantly of all, a gigabit
WAN is one of the only ways you can support multiple megapixel IP cameras
running in HD resolution and in real time. Current commercial WANs running at
512Kbps are hardly able to support even low resolution IP cameras running at CIF
resolutions, much less handle megapixel cameras in HD.

The vision of gigabit over cable modems comes
from the highest authority – the inventor of the cable modem, Rouzbeh Yassini,
who in a recent interview with MCN said that the drivers of gigabit WANs in the
next few years would be video and security.Yassini told MCN that Cisco Systems’ figures
indicated 50 per cent of network traffic would be video by 2012 and he says it’s
this massive growth in content volume that will drive ISPs to deliver networks
capable of tapping into what, for them, is vast revenue potential.

Segueing nicely with all this was the
announcement late last year that CableLabs has released a whole family of
specifications for converged video and broadband services. Pretty obviously,
these new Modular Headend Architecture (MHA) specifications haven’t been
conjured up for the benefit of the video surveillance industry but they are network video standards and that’s
important as the CCTV industry moves forward.

Let’s face it – there never really were standards
for analog video surveillance systems leading to a raft of outrageous
performance claims being made by smaller manufacturers much to the annoyance of
longer term players who invested heavily in R&D.

There’s little doubt the winners in the
networked CCTV industry will be manufacturers of integrity. Consider that AXIS Communications
has just released a new IP camera that complies with the SMPTE (Society of
Motion Picture and Television Engineers) standards for HDTV. SMPTE is an
exemplary organization and this compliance is a clever move by AXIS
Communications.It goes without saying that standards
for network infrastructure and IP cameras will spill over into other areas with
important benefits not just for responsible manufacturers, but for our integrators
and end users, who’ve been flying blind on product performance for far too long.