IP extension is a way to extend your video signals over long distances. IP-based extension allows extension of various video signals using standard (managed) ethernet switches to support extra-long distances beyond the supported CATx cabling distances of 100 meters. Sometimes other hardware like video encoders are needed to send multiple programs simultaneously like multicast and unicast; utilizing protocols for IP, and modern switches we can now distirbute entire headends over exisiting ethernet cabling.
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What is HDMI over Ethernet?
HDMI over Ethernet, also called HDMI over IP, uses an existing ethernet infrastructure to send an HDMI source over existing Cat6, or any Ethernet that supports it, over distances to any number of televisions. HDMI over Ethernet can come in various formats from point to point and point to multipoint depending on your infrastructure layout and scalability. HDMI is a prominent consumer type connector that most devices uses in the home when connecting audio and video components, now using Cat6 or similar can interrupt the previous layout designs of days past.
Running HDMI over long distances
Generally people who are using HDMI are using Televisions, DVD players, Computer Monitors, or any device to relay an audio/video signal. The issue is this type of cabling is generally used for very short distances, longer hauls are very difficult to navigate and the cabling itself is larger in core diameter then other types of medium like Ethernet and Fiber. So running these cables of HDMI to HDMI devices is generally more difficult and can become an expensive endeavor through the use of a matrix digital display to coordinate multiple televisions with multiple sources.
Since HDMI is the most often used connector type in residential types of layouts, its often been found to be a better option then using legacy type connectors; however since Coaxial cable is slowly being phased out, new transmission options of sending data over the cabling creates a newer dilemma which is solved by cabling like Ethernet and Fiber. Specifically Ethernet which is very cost effective versus coaxial cable and fiber optic cable, and easier to use for in home distribution.
While cost is usually a driving factor for most consumers, potential for expansion and scalability is often a necessity as well. So consider a small to midsize sports bar that has 30 or so televisions. Generally running thick heavy cabling like RF or HDMI isn’t ideal, nor is the space it can consume in conduits. Ethernet like Cat5e or Cat6 are phenomenal alternatives using encoders that can run multicast or unicast; sending an entire channel lineup often times found in bars and hotels to each TV. While providing hardware like encoders isn’t ideal for every application, Ethernet and IPTV is an excellent alternative for new construction or during the rehabilitation of old structures which generally replaces Coax anyway.
Why can't video signals be sent over Ethernet cable itself to a monitor?
First you need to keep in mind that much like a telephone line, Coaxial cable, or fiber optic cable, Ethernet is a medium of carrying data via copper using commonplace connectors to make more appliances talk to each other. Made famous by the PC, Ethernet cables formerly were used in office settings for IP data transfer, connecting a household printer, and even databases.
Modern switches, the protocol IP layers, and newer formats of Video like MPEG4/5 have made Ethernet the ideal medium for transmission due to its simplicity and ease of installation. If you have a headend for IPTV, your concerns are generally bandwidth and distribution without creating bottlenecks and congestion; however using UDP and Layer 3 switches, modern headends sending IPTV video from 60 STB’s to over 5000 hotel rooms, like Caesars Palace in Las Vegas makes sense.
HDMI still needed far beyond Ethernet because of the other protocols like HDCP and digital information it contains for syncing and clarity; however Ethernet provides easy core transport for situations where Wi-Fi and legacy cabling just isn’t possible. Today’s modern designs count on the bandwidth of Ethernet, IT, and IP to go hand in hand to support projects of all sectors incorporating HDMI and its high use of data quickly and efficiently.