4K has pushed copper cables to its limits.

Copper had a great run

Copper has been simple and cheap, but similar to the transition in Telecom and Datacom, copper is being replaced by optical interconnects. The reason is the amount of data in a real 4K signal. Real 4K, meaning 4K video with all the bells and whistles such as “deep color” and high dynamic range (HDR), requires 18 gigabits per second (of Gbps), almost 6 times the bandwidth of high definition video.

A copper cable as thick as your thumb can only take a real 4K signal up to 7 meters. 8K video will require even more bandwidth (48 Gbps) and a fat copper cable can only take this signal 2-3 meters. The time has come to transition to optical.

Copper infographic

Industry's Delayed Reaction

The industry has resisted the inevitable transition because optical solutions are more expensive than copper and because fiber is new to installers and integrators. “Alternative solutions have tried to maintain the status quo using copper wiring by either compressing or reducing the information in a video signal. This approach sacrifices the quality of the video experience for pragmatic necessity. 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 trade-off.

The Mixed Blessing of Video over IP

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 as well. Running video over IP requires building and maintaining a stable, high speed network and having the support infrastructure necessary to maintain 100% uptime. Connecting an AV system has now become a major IT project and the quality of the video experience is sacrificed to a host of unpredictable “network problems”.

Learn about fiber.

Fiber has largely replaced copper across Telecom and Datacom networks. And now it’s coming to Videocom, to deliver Real4K™, Real8K™, and whatever else the future demands.


Learn about our Real4K™ OEM subsystems and active optical cables (AOCs).