Using Fiber Optic Cables in Video Surveillance Systems

Video Surveillance is one of those areas where fiber optics cables play a significant role. Its relevance lies in the relatively recent need of data transmission in digital video systems, which have gone through an impressive evolution in terms of resolution, speed and reliability.

The use of coaxial cables used to be the norm when it came down to analog video systems, but their limitations have now been well documented: restrictions in the transmission distance, loss of signal over long cables and even some vulnerability to interference.

The arrival of Digital

Nowadays, digital systems that employ networks and are Internet Protocol (IP)-based demand for special cables that can carry digital video images. Nonetheless, even when the transition towards digital systems is currently a standard practice, the majority of surveillance video systems are not entirely wireless -they still need cables.

And this is exactly where fiber optics cables jump in: they are immune to interference, their inherent security is stronger, they perform well and with outstanding consistency over long distances, and their bandwidth capacity is rather large.


The selection of security camera cables should not be overlooked. This is a step in the installation of a surveillance system that should hold the same importance as the selection of cameras, other video devices and software. At the end of the day, cables will take care of the transmission of information that has the ability to offer protection wherever it is installed, and the storage of that data could even have legal connotations, so it should not be taken lightly. 

The main two choices in Digital Video Systems

Whether you are installing a brand new digital security video system or you are making a transition from an analog one, you need cables that belong to one of these categories: Ethernet or Fiber Optic.

Ethernet cables are typically made from twisted copper wires, and they carry information by employing electrical current.

Fiber Optic cables transport information using light that goes through glass or plastic fibers, and that allows for a high-speed transmission of data. Depending on the speed and the length of data transmission, fiber optic cables can either be single or multimode.

Singlemode cables can only transmit data through a single mode of light. Since this mode enables a lower amount of loss over longer distances, these cables are commonly employed in high bandwidth installations or projects.

Multimode cables have a larger core than Singlemode cables, which allows for a transmission of multiple signals at the same time. However, a larger core and the presence of more data implies a significant higher data attenuation, which makes multimode cables ideal for installations or projects that call for short distances.

Ethernet of Fiber Optic?

It actually depends on what your system needs. If you have a system that needs to transmit data over long distances your best choice is Fiber Optic cables. Since they are made of copper, Ethernet cables have a bigger attenuation rate, hence you should install amplifiers or repeaters for every 328 feet of cable.

This inclusion does not only add more expenses to your project but also increases its chances of malfunction. Since they transmit data with the use of light, and they do it very fast, Fiber Optic cables perform significantly better over long distances.

In terms of flexibility, Ethernet cables represent a better option since they can be installed in places where they need to bend a lot. Copper is a fairly flexible metal so it facilitates the transmission of data in intricate locations. On the other hand, since fiber optic cables do not carry electricity, they can share the same ducts of power cables, so this is something you should definitely consider in case you find yourself in a similar situation.

In regards to security, fiber optic cables are also a better choice. Ethernet cables are more vulnerable to leaks of information and are also susceptible to external interference. Fiber optics are essentially immune to interference because there is no radiation of data signal, so it is harder for intruders to break into these security systems.

As far as costs are concerned, there seems to be a paradox amongst these two cables: while Ethernet cables are generally cheaper, they need more maintenance so the expenses related to their use tend to increase over time; Fiber Optic cables are more expensive at the beginning, but they do not ask for consistent maintenance, so their initial cost of purchase basically remains the only one. Besides, these cables tend to be versatile in case the bandwidth needs expansion, so you wouldn’t really need to get new cables if that’s the case.

At the end of the day, the choice between Ethernet and Fiber Optic cables really depends on what your system needs. Get a solid understanding of the specifications of your project, try to get a sense of designing and installing a long-term solution and you will have a good idea on what you ultimately need to acquire.

BEYONDTECH offers a wide array of both single and multimode Fiber Optic cables that can be useful for your video surveillance system. We can even design and make cables that are customized especially for your needs, so feel free to visit our website or contact us in case you have any questions. We’d be happy to help!

October 14, 2020 by Luis Cardenas
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