For many years, IP camera connectivity relied primarily on the use of Category 5e and 6 unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cables installed between a series of network switches, servers, displays, as well as work stations. In the context of a commercial or residential structure this constitutes what is known as a Local Area Network (LAN). When a LAN extends outside of the facility to include other structures in a campus setting or elsewhere across the state, nation, or world, we call it a Wide Area Network (WAN).
Although wired connectivity has served the video surveillance industry well, as it continues to do today, there are simply times when it's more convenient, more practical to connect using wireless technology through the use of a Wireless Access Point (WAP). Toward this goal, engineers have developed a wireless technology that provides the same kind of connectivity as wired infrastructures and today we have come to call this "WiFi."
Wireless connectivity on the LAN depends on a device called a wireless router.
To utilize the power of WiFi, it's necessary to have a WiFi-enabled device that can communicate with a WAP in a facility which uses a wireless standard called 802.11x, where "x" is a letter that corresponds to a designated version of the official standard. To make this happen, the IP cameras you buy must use the same 802.11x standard, such as 802.11a, 802.11b/g/n, or the newest version, 802.11ac.
"In 1997, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created the first WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) standard. They called it 802.11 after the name of the group formed to oversee its development. Unfortunately, 802.11 only supported a maximum network bandwidth of 2 Mbps - too slow for most applications. For this reason, ordinary 802.11 wireless products are no longer manufactured," says Bradley Mitchell, writer and a wireless/networking expert with 'about tech'.
The next wireless standard, 802.11b, was released in 1999. This protocol supports a bandwidth of up to 11 Mbps, is comparable to wired Ethernet, and uses a frequency of 2.4 GHz. Next came 802.11a, which supports a bandwidth of 54 Mbps at a frequency of 5 GHz. 802.11g came next, supporting a bandwidth of up to 54 Mbps at a frequency of 2.4 Ghz. Engineers made sure that 802.11g would work with devices designed for the older 802.11b standard. 802.11n came next with a bandwidth of 300 Mbps in multiple frequencies: 2.4, 3.6, 5, and 60 GHz, which gives 802.11n more diversification.
Manufacturers, knowing that there are devices still working in the field, have combined many of these wireless standards into a variety of wireless routers, such as 802.11b/g/n. The most current wireless standard is that of 802.11ac. This relatively new standard operates on frequency bands of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz with backward compatibility with 802.11b/g/n. In terms of bandwidth the 802.11ac is rated up to 1300 Mbps on 5 GHz and 450 Mbps on 2.4 GHz.
The newest standard is said to provide better range and a much wider bandwidth, thus assuring that the HD (High Definition) images your camera sends through the WiFi system arrive with as much detail as possible. After all, detail is one of the main reasons for using HD and Megapixel IP cameras. For more information on HD and Megapixel cameras, watch for a new, upcoming article in the next few weeks.