Media over IP is all the rage these days, and it’s only a matter of time before IP infrastructure becomes more broadly used than SDI. Through this transition, though, fiber (media over wavelength/light) will continue to play a vital and valued role in moving data and media from one point to another.
Fiber optic media-over-wavelength transport has been a staple of live television production for decades now, but any application with high bandwidth and/or high bit rate requirements can benefit from fiber. Today it’s proving to be a future-proof delivery vehicle that readily supports rising bandwidth demands and new media workflows.
Fiber has long been a popular choice for live event broadcast applications because several factors. Virtually any video format can be moved over fiber optic technology along with audio, intercom, and various types of data. By multiplexing many signals on a single flexible, lightweight fiber optic cable, users can significantly reduce costs and cabling complexity.
As formats such as 4K/UHD and 8K become increasingly popular, fiber provides the capacity to move this content — whether in the form of a media stream or series of packets — in a way that maintains its fidelity. Whether for a studio, a security installation, an industrial complex, a video-intensive research application, or any of numerous other use cases, fiber delivers a critical combination of performance, capacity, and reliability.
The use of light ensures a high degree of security and privacy, as well. In addition to ensuring excellent immunity to noise and electrical interference, along with low susceptibility to temperature variations, fiber also obviates threats such as wiretapping.
While Ethernet-based IP transport offers many benefits too when it comes to media transport, media over wavelength maintains a distinct edge in terms of simplicity. Moving media over wavelength is relatively straightforward, and there is no need to worry about elements such as IGMP, QoS, port flooding, encryption, denial of service attacks, and the like. Whereas IP takes the whole stack, media over wavelength transport stays at the physical layer, enabling more of a plug-and-play approach.
Another reason for the longstanding utility of fiber is that it can facilitate the migration from SDI to IP. If a facility or organization has already invested in fiber for media over wavelength transport, then it can make a deliberate shift to a packets-over-wavelength model. Using wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM), it’s even possible to carry IP on one wavelength and video over light on another.
For all of these reasons, fiber remains a great option — and sometimes the only option — as IP infrastructure and media transport take hold. At Artel, we live in both worlds and will continue to do so for a long time. Our media-over-wavelength modules continue to play a critical role in customer applications and workflows, and we don’t see that changing. While we’re responding to the IP migration with our product roadmap, we’ll continue to provide a full range of reliable, cost-effective, and simple-to-deploy fiber transport solutions for broadcast and professional AV applications.