Copper has been simple and cheap, but it can’t handle the bandwidth of high-performance video any longer.
A copper HDMI cable as thick as your thumb can only take a real 4K signal up to 7 meters before it is overwhelmed by errors. 8K video will require even more bandwidth (48Gbps) and a fatter copper cable, yet only carry the signal 2 to 3 meters.
Applications like corporate video, event venues, medical, and digital signage are already transitioning to optical. Soon applications with much shorter distances like home theater, gaming, and VR will need to make the transition.
The industry has resisted the inevitable transition because optical solutions are more expensive and fiber is new to installers and integrators. Some have tried to maintain the status quo using copper wiring by either compressing or reducing the information in a video signal. With this approach, the incredible beauty of real 4K and 8K video content is downgraded in order to lower the amount of data moved from Point A to Point B. This is not a desirable tradeoff.
One way to remain on a copper infrastructure is to convert video to data bits and treat video streams like data streams on a local area network (LAN). Benefits include flexibility, better manageability, and the ability to “borrow” data networking solutions. But there are downsides too. Running video over IP requires building and maintaining a stable, high-speed network and having the support infrastructure necessary to maintain 100% uptime.