August 6, 2011

Internet Bandwidth Needed For Home Video Security

Whether you use video security from a provider such as ADT Pulse, Vivint, Logitech Alert or others or have added IP Cameras for home video monitoring on your own, they all use your home Internet connection for remote viewing of video or for remote recording of video. A high Internet bandwidth (upload bandwidth) is required for good video quality. If you are among the lucky few with a 100 Mbps Internet, you may not need to worry about the next steps. For the rest, the big question – what is the Internet bandwidth needed for home video security? And therefore, which Internet plan should you get from your ISP?
First, be prepared to get the highest bandwidth plan (upload bandwidth) that is within your budget. As higher upload bandwidth will give better video quality and give you a better video security experience.

Most IP cameras allow setting the maximum bandwidth used by each camera e.g. from 256 kbps to 1 Mbps, 2 Mbps or unlimited. Using this, you can try different bandwidth settings and see which gives the best video quality for remote viewing and use that to plan your Internet upload bandwidth. If you plan to install multiple cameras, remember that your Internet upload bandwidth will get shared among all the cameras.

Alternately, use the online IP camera bandwidth calculation tool provided by Axis.

A default project with default settings is shown. Change this as following
  1. click product options > edit product  (at bottom middle)
  2. change camera model to Axis M1031-W, an inexpensive wireless IP camera for home use, which uses H.264.
  3. set Profile – Custom …
  4. For remote Viewing, set
    1. Frame rate – 30, for best video quality
    2. Resolution – VGA  (640x480, adequate for home security)
    3. Video Encoding – H.264, for best quality
    4. Compression – 10, for best video quality
    5. Audio - On
Click on the Bandwidth icon at the bottom to see the resultant video quality. Experiment by changing the parameters. 

As shown below, you need at least 847 Kbps of upload for one camera i.e. plan to have an Internet with at least a 1 Mbps upload bandwidth (for one camera) for best video quality.

Note: Lower frame rates (caused by low Internet upload bandwidth) produce a jerky video and a bad experience. If your security provider is telling you that 5 frames per second is ok. It is not!  You can see the results by changing the above parameters.

Also, services that require a second video stream from your camera (and therefore double the bandwidth requirements) for remote recording are inefficient and should be avoided, as they will not scale up. A single video-stream coming from your camera should be viewable and recordable remotely.

H.264 is the latest standard in use for video, also used by Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Most H.264 IP cameras will have bandwidth requirements similar to the above. And this tool can be used for determining how much bandwidth is needed for your home video security.

Professionals can also try Axis’s IP camera coverage tool (requires login). This tool will help determine where to place your IP camera for maximum visual coverage of an area.