Wireless Internet CCTV, also known as IP CCTV, is the modern replacement for old analogue CCTV cameras and has the great advantage that you can see your property, live, from wherever you happen to be, using the internet. Now that the technology has become popular in homes and businesses, people need to know how to get the best out of it. In this article, I want to look at the minimum set of features that a router needs in order to be used successfully with wireless CCTV.
First, a quick note about types of broadband and router compatibility. Your broadband service is likely to come through your phone line or perhaps via a satellite CCTV box. If it’s through a phone line, you will need an ADSL modem/router, sometimes called a DSL modem/router. The modem part of the box is what talks to the phone line. On the other hand, if you have broadband from your cable supplier, you need a cable router. This is not the cable box itself, but another box that plugs into your cable box. The router part of a cable router or a DSL modem/router is usually the same, with many manufacturers making cable and DSL versions of what is essentially a router with the same features. Now, let’s take a look at the features you will need to get the most out of your wireless internet CCTV system:
- Virtual Server/Port Forwarding. This just means having the ability to set up the router so that a special code known as a port number is allocated to the camera. When you open an internet browser window and type in the URL or address of the camera, you add this special port number onto the end of the address, (e.g. for port 8765, you would type “http://theaddress:8765” where “theaddress” is the internet IP address or URL of your network). When the router sees the port number it knows the message is to be passed to the camera. Without this facility, you would not be able to see your property over the internet.
- DDNS Support. It stands for Dynamic DNS and is used where the address of your home or business on the broadband system, known as the IP address, is changed at will by the broadband supplier. Most DSL broadband services have changing IP addresses, also known as dynamic IP addresses. Say you have an IP address of 126.96.36.199 (they tend to look like this) today, with dynamic IP addressing it could be something different tomorrow. This means you would never know what address to use to access your camera over the internet, and that is where DDNS support comes in. Basically, you use a third party service to link a domain name to an IP address. This service is provided by a separate DDNS provider and can be free, e.g. dyndns.com. The router’s DDNS feature means that the router makes sure it always tells the DDNS provider what your current broadband IP address is. Therefore, even if the IP address changes, you can always contact your camera by using the same dyndns address, e.g. “http://mycamera.dyndns.com:8765”.
- Keep alive or auto-reconnect feature. This feature is all about making sure the router stays connected. You may have a power cut, or the DSL line/ cable connection may drop for a few moments. In these scenarios, you want the router to sort itself out. Earlier models of home router did not handle this well, and even today some can still be bought that don’t reconnect after a power cut or especially a broadband fault. The last thing you want is to go on holiday and then find you cannot log into your camera because a power cut several days ago left the router disconnected, so this is important.
- Encryption. Most routers these days offer some sort of encryption, usually known as WEP or WPA. WPA is stronger and preferable. Encryption is simply encoding the messages on your wireless network so that they cannot be intercepted easily. Make sure you get a router that offers at least one type of encryption that your wireless internet CCTV cameras offer. For example, it is no good getting a router which only does WPA encryption if your cameras can only do WEP.
As always, if what you have read here leaves you dizzy and you just want an internet CCTV system to monitor your home or business without all this technical complication, my advice is to get a fully-configured camera pack from a specialist supplier.