Fiber optic cabling has been part of the audiovisual infrastructure for years. No longer cost-prohibitive, fiber is now a key part of AV-over-IP solutions.

Fiber Optic Cabling – Revisited

It has been a few years since we addressed fiber optic cabling and connectivity, so it’s time for an update. The information in our previous post, “3 Fiber Myths in AV,” is still valid, but with time brings new product development that benefits everyone, and fiber is no exception.

Fiber Updates

The cost of fiber optic cable (fiber) has come down considerably. New innovations in fiber optic connectivity now makes fiber easier and faster to terminate than other cable types. These new innovations in conjunction with the reduced cost of fiber has significantly leveled the playing field between copper category cable and fiber, particularly when 10 Gigabit performance is required for low-latency and uncompressed/low-compression video.

Fiber or Copper Cable Benefits

Fiber and copper cable each have their respective place in AV signal transport. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the application. For instance, fiber supports higher bandwidth, is not susceptible to EMI (Electro Magnetic Interference), it’s secure, and supports longer transmission distances. Together, these fiber-optical cable features help create an infrastructure that better supports future capabilities.


Also, key to supporting future capabilities, is a cable infrastructure that supports the transport of Audio-Visual over Internet Protocol (AV over IP), handling audio, video, and control for AV systems, as well as USB 2.0, 3.0 and 100-Base-T pass through to allow KVM (Keyboard Video Mouse) and web-conferencing support. AV-over-IP is the new standard, using IT networking equipment instead of older dedicated AV systems. It allows a standard managed switch to replace an older AV matrix switcher. AV-over-IP technology enables an AV source or destination device to connect to an encoder or decoder (depending on the application) and connects to a standard ethernet switch. So, you can connect as many encoders and decoders as the network design allows and scale accordingly.

While AV-over-IP typology permits multiple connection points and transmission across ethernet, it requires a proper infrastructure design. Some of these design considerations need to include backplane throughput, stacking connections, and bandwidth of aggregate nodes.

The most common AV-over-IP solutions (as of this writing) requires a 1 or 10 gigabit network speed, but as higher network speeds become the norm, fiber becomes an excellent choice for infrastructure and future-proofing, in addition to its other qualities.

AV and IT Convergence

As the convergence between AV and IT continues to evolve, making the right choice between fiber or copper can make or break an AV project, and in most cases, there is no easy answer. Contact us and let us work with your IT team to design a solution that is flexible and scalable. We’ll help you consider the options, address bandwidth requirements, infrastructure planning, and come up with a standards-based IP design solution that can be used for multiple configurations.

Erik J Geiger

Erik J Geiger, CTS-D, is ABD's Director of Audiovisual, and an Audiovisual consultant in Portland, Oregon. He has designed and consulted on audio, video, and conference systems for over 20 years. Erik studied Mass Communications at the University of Wisconsin, and Audio Recording and Production, at the Musicians Technical Training Institute. He has served as an Audiovisual discipline leader and project manager, and carries a wealth of technical system consulting and design experience. Erik brings the heart of a teacher to every project, helping clients and end-users to understand a rapidly changing environment. When Erik isn’t designing audiovisual systems, he enjoys playing the piano, backpacking, cycling, and photography.

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