Fiber, Connectivity, and the Need for Fast, High-Resolution Audio and Video

What’s New in AV Connectivity?

In many ways, what’s new in connectivity has been with us for quite some time. While fiber is not a new technology, it remains unique and continues to provide exceptional benefits for AV connectivity. Fiber also has the capacity to adapt as technology around bandwidth, audio, video transmission and clarity continues to evolve. Copper is still around and will probably be around for a long time. But its limitations become more and more apparent as fiber rises to meet those same challenges.

Why Now is the Time for Fiber?

In many ways, fiber is seen as the safest choice. It is the safest, not in the sense of being conservative, but it is the clear choice that offers commercial clients positive outcomes that are future-ready. Here are just a few answers to the question, “Why fiber?”

1. Bandwidth
The thirst for bandwidth is so far unquenchable. Each benchmark reached is a great milestone, but today’s miracle speed and level of clarity is tomorrow’s telephone landline connection. CatX copper is limited to 10Gps on an unbent, perfectly installed line. Fiber’s bandwidth is only limited by how hardware connected to the cable performs, not the cable itself.

2. No Interference
Fiber means there are no metal connections creating interference. Metalic connection points create potential surge and noise interference, making copper a weak competitor.

3. Distance
Copper and Wi-fi have limitations when it comes to distance. For the best possible audio and visual experience from one end of a corporate campus to the other, fiber remains what is new in connectivity. Copper is limited to relatively short distances while delivering acceptable speed and clarity.

4. Future-Proof
Fiber’s adaptability may be its most relevant feature for the world of AV installation. What is “new” in connectivity, in this case, is how fiber creates such a future-proof infrastructure. Fiber meets today’s standards and is also ready for the next level standards.

This is a big win for consumers of AV connectivity since the infrastructure is put in once rather than over and over again.

With all that good news about connectivity and fiber, what issues could there possibly be? Consumers of AV should be educated about this because there does remain some level of stigma around fiber. Many think wireless is the only game in town, especially in the future. But for the most seamless connectivity over distance, fiber remains hard to beat.

Another stigma is that fiber is too expensive. The truth is, fiber infrastructure is becoming more affordable. In line with copper, with many more benefits. And when you factor in fiber’s power of future-proofing, there really is no comparison.

Fiber and Beyond

Connectivity that the client does not have to think about needs to be the standard in commercial installations. Commercial projects often deal with long distances. Single mode installation allows for long runs without fear of diminished clarity, etc. Again surge or voltage droppage is typical with copper, so the future is fiber.

Years ago, integrators used matrix switchers, baluns and other devices to distribute AV signals. Some of these solutions required complex setups and lots of labor.

Today, however, through technologies like HDBaseT, AV over IP signal management and fiber cabling, integrators can tailor their system designs to meet the exact content, budget and future expansion goals of their clients.

Get Ready for HDMI 2.1

Another thing that is new but not is HDMI 2.1. It’s not here completely, even though it was announced back in November of 2017. But we’re getting close. Why should we be paying attention? Rob Tobias, CEO and President of HDMI Licensing Administrator, recently explained it this way: “With the promise of increase in bandwidth from 18Gbps to 48Gbps—that increases the resolution into the 8K realm, and with an optional digitally lossless compression called DSC it can even get to 10K.”

The industry has caught up to 4K60 with 18Gbps. We are not yet at 48Gbps, but we are all eager to get there.

These are truly exciting times in connectivity.



photo credit: C2G, Legrand AV
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