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Never mind the CCTV, feel the bandwidth

Robert Kent, Tech Support Manager - Cloudview

Some organisations think they can’t take advantage of Cloudview, because they are in a remote location without access to super-fast fibre broadband.

But in fact, Cloudview doesn’t need superfast broadband. We have clients who use ADSL on their standard telephone line and others who use 3G and 4G connections.

Let’s take a look at all the jargon, and explain how we provide a sophisticated, cloud based CCTV service to anyone who has access to the mobile phone network or old-school ADSL.

Advantages of Cloudview

  • alerts by email or SMS if there are intrusions
  • password protected access to particular functions so that only those who are authorised to see data can get to it
  • full audit trailing of who has seen what – vital for meeting data protection rules

Untangling bandwidth

To understand what bandwidth is, and how much (well, actually how little) you need for Cloudview CCTV we need to do some unpicking.

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth is the amount of data a system can transmit. Whether we’re looking at a wired internet system like ADSL or superfast fibre-optic cable, or mobile phone networks like 3G, 4G or the upcoming 5G, they all have a maximum achievable bandwidth.

The maximum achievable bandwidth might not be what you get in your area. There are lots of online services which will test your bandwidth – for example try the Measurement Lab Network Diagnostic Tool. We suggest you do several checks, at different times of the day, to see if your bandwidth fluctuates.

How is bandwidth measured?

Your telecommunications provider will quote bandwidth measured in Mbps – which stands for Megabits per second.

You will also see data transfer speeds quote Kbps which stands for Kilobits per second.

One megabit is equal to 1,000 kilobits. So, 1 Mbps is 1,000 times faster than 1 Kbps.

More on bits – and introducing bytes

The lower case "b" in Kbps and Mbps stands for ‘bit’.

It is not to be confused with ‘byte’, which is a different measure entirely, and is expressed with an upper case ‘B’ for example MBps or KBps.

Byte is the measure that’s generally used for data storage such as the capacity of your laptop or phone storage.

One byte is equal to eight bits. Or, put another way using our abbreviations, 2 MBps is the same as 16 Mbps.

What are typical data speeds?

Actual speeds will vary depending on what’s available in your area and the particular circumstances of your location, but here are some typical data speeds:

Type of broadband How is it delivered Typical
download speeds
Typical
upload speeds
ADSL Through a landline telephone connection 16 Mbps 512 Kbps to 2 Mbps
Fibre ‘to the cabinet’
(using copper
infrastructure to the
premises)
Through a cable provider (including BT Openreach) 80 Mbps 6 Mbps to 20 Mbps
Fibre ‘to the premises’
(uses fibre all the
way to the premises)
Through a cable provider (including BT Openreach) 330 Mbps 30 Mbps
3G From a network operator 3 Mbps 0.4 Mbps
4G From a network operator 20 Mbps 8 Mbps

So – how much bandwidth do you need for Cloudview?

Our rule of thumb is that customers need an upload speed of 200kbps to 250kbps per camera.

Looking at the table above, it is clear that any available service, including ADSL and a 3G connection, can cope with this.

The role of the Visual Network Adapter

A key part of the Cloudview is our Visual Network Adapter (VNA).

The VNA is the bridge between cameras and the cloud. It takes footage from cameras and sends it to cloud over broadband.

The VNA has some clever abilities which help it maximise bandwidth use. These include:

  • Constantly checking network speed so that action can be taken automatically if for some reason the network is down or running slow
  • Holding visual data until the network is back up or operating at full strength and then sending it to the cloud
  • Compressing visual data before sending to save on bandwidth
  • Only uploading visual date when something interesting is captured. This might be because a camera senses movement at a time when a location is expected to be empty of people, or because someone goes to an unusual part of a room.
  • Altering the number of frames captured per second so that visual data remains useful, but consumes less bandwidth

In the real world...

Here are three example Cloudview installations in three different types of site:

Remote Site on 4G

4 VNAs capturing data at 5fps (5 frames a second)

Average recording hours per day:

    VNA1 = 2 hours
    VNA2 = 4 hours
    VNA3 = 3 hours
    VNA4 = 1 hour

Estimated upload bandwidth required = 1.1Mbit/sec

Office site on standard ADSL broadband

10 VNAs

Total of 30 hours recorded per day at 3fps (3 frames a second)

Estimated upload bandwidth required = 2Mbit/sec

Large Site using fibre broadband

75 VNAs

Total of 180 hours recorded per day at 5fps (5 frames a second)

Estimated upload bandwidth required = 20Mbits/sec

Cloudview brings CCTV to everyone

So, even with the slowest of broadband connections available, ADSL and 3G, it is possible to run a multi-camera Cloudiew system.

This means that remote businesses, utilities and others can remove old fashioned and outdated CCTV systems and replace them with more modern and sophisticated cloud based systems, taking advantage of the benefits on offer.

These include anywhere, anytime access to visual data, alerts based on pre-set triggers, access permissions for the data, easy sharing of visual data with third parties such as security teams or the police, and strong audit trailing for data protection assurance.

If you are interested in exploring the possibilities of Cloudview for your own site, however remote, then check your bandwidth with the Measurement Lab Network Diagnostic Tool. If your upload speed approaches 1Mbps, you can accommodate Cloudview.