For most of the audiovisual (AV) systems designed in the 80s and 90s, there was a clear point of demarcation between where information technology (IT) networks ended and AV systems began. Early AV systems only used analog phone lines for audio conferencing. The mid-80s brought video conferencing and a requirement for digital phone lines such as ISDN and its cousin Switch 56. Most of this bandwidth was leased or had hourly usage fees. This resulted in the operating costs being very high for companies that used the technology.
With the advent of internet protocol (IP), audio and video information could be bundled and streamed on the same local and wide area networks (LANs and WANs) as other data within an enterprise at little or no additional cost. At first, IT managers were reluctant to allow AV traffic on their networks. It took some time for the IT world to understand that allowing AV information on their networks was not a choice but a business necessity.
It did not take long for AV manufacturers to capitalize on the fact that networks could be utilized for more than just audio and video streaming. The availability of AV equipment with an Ethernet port to allow device control, management, or movement of content is increasing with each new product release. Major control system manufacturers continue to shift away from proprietary control networks to open architecture protocols.
The AV industry has been forever changed by the convergence of AV and network controls. However, content delivery over networks is still the “wild, wild west” so stayed tuned for further updates as the technology continues to evolve!