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IP Infrastructure Essentials, Part 1: Set Up For Success

It’s hard to remember a more exciting time in our industry. The shift from analog to digital, and now to IP-enabled AV technologies is creating new energy and opportunities—and with good reason. Networked-based AV systems offer remote monitoring and access, scalable setups, and centralized control options. 

For some AV specialists, though, AV over IP is still new. For others, migrating AV to IP is a work in progress. Budget realities and debates about 10Gb versus 1Gb add to the confusion. Regardless of where you are in the process, IP-enabled AV is quickly becoming the reality, and AV stakeholders need to firm up on IP knowledge. Here are a few basics of an IP infrastructure to help you and your team get started.

Start With the Basics

When preparing for a reliable IP infrastructure, start thinking about it on the physical layer. More specifically, start with the most fundamental element of the infrastructure: the cabling.

We already understand the limitations of hardwired HDMI connections, DVI connections, or high-speed HDMI 2.0 connections. They do the job, and they do it well. But there are serious distance limitations to physical native connections and native cabling. These limits can also be costly. 

Go the Distance

When you move AV into the IP world, we can dramatically extend our range. We know how far we can go over a gigabit Ethernet copper Cat-6 cable. We also know how far we can go over a single-mode, fiber connection. IP functionality lets us expand our range and capabilities dramatically, far beyond sending a signal from point A to point B. 

Seven-Layer OSI Model

In the seven-layer Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, the Data Link layer is layer 2. Layer 2 provides node-to-node transfer and is responsible for media access control, flow control, and error checking.

The Network layer is layer 3. Layer 3 is where the packet-forwarding and routing happens, and through intermediate routers. Layer 3 also manages quality of service (QoS), recognizes, and forwards local host domain messages to the Transport layer (layer 4). 

Once you start moving up the layers, you can start thinking about breaking up and segmenting a network depending on what type of traffic you have, and what type of priority is required for it. And that brings us into the Ethernet switching world. We will cover more about the OSI layers as they related to your infrastructure in Part 2 of this blog.

AV/IT Education

Whether you are just getting started with IP-based AV, or you are a seasoned pro, regular training and education are key. AVIXA offers various IT-centric courses and tracks, such as Networking Technology Online. Learn more here.

Mark Bohs is Datapath’s director of Sales, the Americas. Read Part 2 of this blog, which covers switches and VLANs, here.