Using Wireless for CCTV

Effective Backhaul: Capacity, Security, Affordability & Scalability

Town centres, business parks, emergency services, schools and councils are increasingly pressured to deploy next generation CCTV networks to protect & safeguard property and, more importantly, people. With these new demands, new issues and challenges arise for CCTV network operators who are forced into a difficult trade off between price vs. security, quality and reliability, often having to sacrifice one for another.


Using proprietary wireless backhaul technology specifically engineered for CCTV ensures that an installer gets the financial benefits of a wireless system without compromising on quality still achieving fibre performance”


Capacity: HD Video Needs HD Backhaul

CCTV has come a long way from the earliest known use stemming from Germany in 1942 used to monitor the testing of rockets consisting of a simple camera to monitor system with no recording. VCR recording succeeded this in the 1980’s followed by the digital age in the early 2000’s which saw the VCR replaced by the DVR recording onto a hard drive rapidly boosting the amount of video that could be recorded. CCTV installers have kept to analogue for as long as possible due to tradition and fear of IP, but now with HD video quality and anytime cloud access becoming the de-facto standards, a new generation of CCTV installers are winning many of the contracts with IP previously held by analogue. For an IP, HD and cloud based CCTV network, a reliable backhaul method is paramount to delivering patch-less footage to the NVR. Fibre, of course, is preferable however as discussed later in this whitepaper is often not simple or cost effective to deploy.




Security: without Compromising Quality

CCTV data must also be secure, especially when concerning local government, blue light, ANPR, traffic light management or any other critical applications. Often to save CAPEX cost, encryption is overlooked or WiFi based wireless backhaul is used leaving open invitations to a security hack or data breach. A security hack or data breach is costly to fix involving huge human and financial resources not to the mention down time and private information potentially leaked to people. With newly active hacking groups, or “hacktivists”, targeting CCTV networks more and more in a bid to disrupt governmental operations, security has now has become an equal deciding factor when planning a network.


The University of Michigan published a paper1 in which they describe how they gained control of an entire traffic light system controlling almost 100 intersections in an unnamed Michigan city. The vulnerability came from the WiFi based backhaul used for the network which was found to be “visible from standard laptops and smart-phones” enabling the University to gain control quickly and easily.


Security threats, a hot press topic since 2013, are only increasing leaving tarnished reputations to the names of corporations, councils and governments. Ensuring the highest level of security is achieved using AES 128 or 256bit encryption which superseded DES encryption. Such levels of encryption are available for both wired and wireless communications however an added layer of security is introduced with wireless through frequency.


With wireless, by using either a licensed (6 – 50GHz), millimetre wave (60, 70 & 80GHz) or a proprietary based 5GHz radio, network operators can be further assured. For a successful intrusion, a hacker would have to purchase a radio receiver on the same frequency, align it to intercept the radio signal and then hack past the AES overlay which considering that the 60GHz beam-width is only 1o wide, may take a while.


Affordability: Fibre is Reliable but not Financially Viable

Fibre is often looked at as the most reliable, resilient and high quality choice of connection available for CCTV camera to DVR/control room backhaul. Fibre however is often not a real-world choice due to security, location, price and lead time. As well as the high reliability fibre brings, it is also presents challenges for CCTV networks.


One of the main drawbacks to fibre is the cost to deploy, maintain and replace. Not only do fibre networks have to be dug from scratch avoiding listed buildings, electricity lines and roads, they also have to be replaced every 4-8 years when bandwidth requirements of the cameras multiply. With the recent mass adoption of HD video and the newly introduced 4K resolution, bandwidth requirements are destined to increase. Fibre can also take weeks to be laid and configured taking up large amounts of project management time delaying other CCTV project work.


Conclusion: Wireless, too good to be true?

Using proprietary & unlicensed wireless backhaul technology specifically engineered for CCTV ensures that an installer gets the financial benefits of a wireless system without compromising on quality still achieving fibre performance. When deploying a combination of proprietary wireless equipment spread across different frequencies and capacity capabilities, a low-cost fibre-like performing wireless backhaul CCTV network can be deployed.


By using next generation backhaul manufacturers such as Repeatit, Siklu, Ceragon & Cambium Networks, CCTV installers benefit from 5 key areas: Security, Capacity, Simplicity, Scalability and Affordability. Purdicom provides partners with CCTV tender support, pre-configuration and installation assistance for customers planning a wireless CCTV network.