20 Mar 2020

The right connectivity for stand-alone IP cameras

Footprint, cost, and coverage are key criteria in selecting a cellular modem for mobile and nomadic video surveillance applications, from body worn cameras for emergency services to conservation research. 4G LTE Cat 1 ticks all the boxes.

4G LTE for stand-alone wireless IP cameras

In several police forces around the world, body worn cameras have catapulted themselves from the objects of pilot studies to just another piece of police gear. Today, only six years after their introduction, around two million of them are in use, estimates Memoori in a report on the “physical security business.”1  And given the benefits they have brought – a reported 93 percent drop in complaints against police officers that wear them, and close a 60 percent fewer incidents requiring police forces to intervene forcefully – the growth in numbers is likely to persist well into the future, as other user groups seek to leverage their benefits.

Increasingly, body worn cameras are moving from offering on-device video storage to live-streaming footage to a server, where it can be viewed from headquarters or automatically analyzed using artificial intelligence. Some models already leverage sensors to increase the camera’s context awareness, for instance enabling it to automatically switch on and provide a live view from the officer’s perspective at the sound of a gunshot.

Whether they are used in policing, in security operations, in emergency rescue scenarios, or in elderly care homes, body worn cameras combine several requirements that are difficult to reconcile. In order to reliably stream high-definition video when it matters most, they need dependable cellular network coverage with robust hand-overs, even in fast-moving mobile situations when officers move from one network cell to the next.

Because they are portable and deployed for hours on end, they need to be small and power-efficient. And because police-forces and their equipment are largely financed using taxpayer money, affordable pricing of the hardware and the required video storage serves are also essential for their adoption.

Of all the cellular technologies covered in the 4G LTE family, LTE Cat 1 stands out as a strong candidate for mobile and nomadic video surveillance applications that are expected to stream HD video. Consuming 20 percent less power than LTE Cat 4, and powered by a cellular communication module that is 30 percent smaller and cheaper,2  LTE Cat 1 also offers more uniform connectivity rates than LTE Cat 4, which depends more strongly on the proximity to cellular base stations, making it a perfect fit for stand-alone cameras used for deployable surveillance in nomadic conditions.

These same specs meet the requirements of a wide range of nomadic video surveillance applications. Conservation biologists and wildlife researchers interested in studying biodiversity often rely on camera traps to observe animal populations in strategic locations such as watering holes. Similarly, municipal authorities, traffic management services, and industrial users can easily set up ad-hoc video surveillance networks to visually track the development and aftermath of protests, accidents, or safety-related incidents.

We began our series of blogs on LTE-based video surveillance applications by looking at the transformational impact of high-speed LTE Cat 4 and LTE Cat 6 technology in powering multi IP-camera setups. LTE Cat 1, presented here, meets the requirements of mobile stand-alone use cases. In our next installment, we will look at how low data rate LPWA (low power, wide area) cellular technology, specifically LTE-M, transforms IP-cameras into intelligent visual sensors that deliver far more than raw images, with use cases across industry verticals. So be sure to subscribe to our blog to be the first to know when we post fresh content!


[1] The Physical Security Business 2019 to 2024 – Memoori, Q4, 2019

[2] Comparison between the u-blox LARA-R3 and the u-blox TOBY-L4

Diego Grassi

Senior Manager Application Marketing, Industrial Market Development, u-blox

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