Setting aside the opinions on contributed content, which is itself an interesting discussion, I’d like to address comments from John Honovich on the article I wrote for SDM magazine: Wireless Mesh for Video Surveillance: Why and How.
Quoting from the article: “The flexibility of mesh allows it to be deployed in … point-to-point for backhaul, ptmpt, or “true” mesh for complete redundancy,” John commented: “Totally misleading — why would you use mesh in most ptp scenarios? It’s far more expensive. But SDM lets @firetide run this as a primer on why and how, misleading their readers for Firetide’s benefit.”
To address John’s concern, and clarify for others who may have followed the Twitter discussion:
In the physical security world, mesh has come to be perceived as a viable transport for large-scale video surveillance deployments, hence the focus of the article, as requested by the publication. Further, I was not advocating use of mesh for any and all point-to-point deployments, just stating that it can be deployed in point-to-point configuration.
The article was not comparing mesh with low-cost, low-capacity gear, such as point-to-point wireless Ethernet bridges, that John seems to be alluding to as more cost effective. (Plug: in fact, we now have our own point-to-point solution to address scenarios where customers need to connect one or two outlying cameras that we just announced at ISC West). To John’s point, using most vendors’ mesh for such deployments would be an overkill and quite expensive: multiple thousands of dollars per link.
Where customers do see the value in the flexibility of mesh is the ability to use the same set of equipment for both mesh coverage (i.e. street level connectivity) and the point-to-point backhaul – to send the aggregated traffic to the command center for viewing and storage, or to interconnect multiple meshes, each with numerous cameras.
The primary advantages are:
- End-to-end network management – there are fewer ‘moving parts’ in the deployment, and you don’t have to worry about interoperability between different sets of equipment (one for camera connectivity and one for backhaul)
- Significant cost savings compared to dedicated point-to-point backhaul, which can be very expensive ($15,000 per link is not unheard of). Specifically, our customers have said that using mesh gear instead of another provider’s point-to-point links saves them 65%.
Another advantage of mesh topology is the ability to grow the network incrementally, as security needs change or new funds become available. I’ve heard of quite a few customers who start their networks as a few point-to-point links, or point-to-multipoint, and then reconfigure the networks to full or partial mesh – by filling in coverage gaps with additonal mesh nodes. If they started with true point-to-point equipment, they’d have to rip it out and start fresh.
Many law enforcement customers have mesh gear for portable or temporary deployments; they don’t know what topology they may need for a specific situation. So having the gear that can do all three topologies – point-to-point, point-to-multipoint, and multi-hop mesh – is a big advantage for them. Otherwise, they’d have to get three separates sets of equipment, which is two or three times more expensive.
So, the flexibility of mesh allows for ease of installation and can result in significant costs savings. The fact that mesh can be deployed in multiple configurations, and combinations thereof, is an advantage that many Firetide and non-Firetide customers appreciate.
Updated on April 6: I’ve done a post on limitations of point-to-point and point-to-multipoint systems for video in the post below: