An impromptu “plugfest” involving a new FiberPlex converter box earlier this month at the Las Vegas labs of top AV integrator AVDB Group solved a recurring problem with the growing number of platforms using the IEEE AVB set of protocols for AV streaming.
“We needed a solution for the 100-meter (cable) limitation for our larger projects, which as you can expect of Las Vegas, is about as big as they get,” explained Bob Langlois, the general manager for AVDB Group’s Las Vegas office. AVDB Group recommends AVB platforms for audio whenever there is a need for an extreme channel count because of AVB’s expansive 420 channels of bidirectional audio on a single Cat6.
Streaming audio and/or video across distances greater than the 100-meter cap on copper cabling, however, can be a problem for any AV integrator. A FiberPlex representative passing through Las Vegas recently stopped in with a solution. “Doug from FiberPlex happened to have the right SFP module in his pocket and we decided to give it a try,” said Langlois.
The SFP, or small form-factor pluggable, was a singlemode optical module for FiberPlex’s new FOI-6010 universal SFP/SFP+ frame, which can interchange SFP modules for a variety of formats and uses such as interfacing singlemode or multimode optical cable to existing Cat5 or Cat6 build-outs. The FOI-6010 frame has two serially connected cages which provide bidirectional coupling of copper cable to optical cable at data rates up to 12.5 Gbps per slot with complete noise immunity, complete electrical isolation, and virtually unlimited optical cable runs.
“Fiber optic doesn’t have the noise and signal propagation issues that copper does, which is why all the new switches are set up for optical cable as a solution for AVB platforms that run lighting and media across long distances,” said Doug Schwartz, who is in charge of Western Regional Client Relations for FiberPlex.
Newer AVB switches are specified for optical, although AV integrators such as AVDB Group are often faced with retrofitting to existing Cat6 or Cat5 switches that require a converter box rather than replace an entire bank of switches.
As an initial test, system specialists with AVDB plugged a Cat6 cable into one end of the FiberPlex FOI-6010 frame and a singlemode optical cable into the other end, successfully extending an AVB network along with control through an Extreme network switch. AVDB specialists did several critical listening tests using a set of VUE H-15 loudspeakers.
“We even ran this through a proprietary network. It (FOI-6010 with optical SFP) doesn’t seem to care what the protocol is. It doesn’t matter if it’s BSS or whatever, it just goes across and comes out the other end,” said Langlois.
FiberPlex introduced the FOI-6010 at InfoComm 2013 along with new SFPs for use in a variety of data and video applications. More than a dozen FiberPlex SFP modules are currently available for the FOI-6010 frame for a range of purposes, including converting between media formats SD-SDI, HD-SDI, 3G-SDI, and 6G-SDI and for HDMI/DVI, 10/100/1G Ethernet and MADI, as well as full duplex and BiDi optical. The frame also takes any standard SFP module by third-party vendors. SFP modules are hot-swappable and interchangeable for converting optical signals from one format to another or for converting between media formats.
In addition to optical conversion, FiberPlex offers fiber optic products for increasing the capacity of existing fiber optic infrastructure. Its Active WDM multiplexer bumps capacity beyond OC-48 data transfer rates to 3G video for up to 16 channels over two strands of optical fiber, effectively reducing acquisition costs to pennies on the dollar compared to the cost of installing new fiber optic runs with associated labor and conduit expenses to yield the same capacity gain.