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IP Infrastructure Essentials, Part 2: Making the Switch

Switches for AV traffic introduce a world of capabilities. Generally, we're not going to want to put AV/multimedia content on an existing corporate network. Facilities and applications differ, but think about the benefits of segmenting AV traffic because of the sheer bandwidth requirements of some AV applications. Strongly consider your own separate AV network.

Of course, it all depends on how much AV traffic your facility expects. If we're looking at a simple point A-to-point-B scenario, AV might not have to touch a switch network. That could be easily done with an IP extender.

Switches and Segmentation

When you do have to put AV into a switch network, that is where it's hitting some sort of Ethernet switch either 1Gb or 10Gb. If it is a corporate network and the traffic is not overwhelming, that network can sustain the added AV applications. Consider splitting it into a VLAN (virtual local area network) at the data link layer, or a subnet, parsing off into a separate topology so it can live on that same network.

If your multimedia content needs will be greater than what the corporate network can sustain, then start thinking about a separate network devoted to AV. We see large organizations that are loading up lots of visual signage traffic, corporate AV traffic, corporate AV traffic, and videoconferencing. That larger-scale scenario would be well-suited to have a separate network just for AV. Ultimately, it is important to lead with the application. Let your facility needs and your applications drive the switch strategy and your choice of AV-over-IP protocol (AVB/TSN, Dante, Q-SYS, AES67, just to name a few).

Keep Learning

AVIXA offers several IT- and IP-centric tracks that are valuable for AV pros at every level. Learn more here.

Mark Bohs is Datapath’s director of Sales, the Americas. Read Part 1 of this blog here.


According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Ethernet Switch Tracker and Worldwide Quarterly Router Tracker, the worldwide Ethernet switch market (layer 2/3) recorded more than $25.7 billion in revenue in 2017 for a year-over-year growth rate of 5.4 percent.