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When it comes to communications technology, we’re light years ahead of where we were just twenty or thirty years ago. What’s truly incredible, though, is the vast array of uses that have been developed with these technological advances.

Certainly we use many forms of communications technology to interact with other people. However, available technologies can also be used to collect and transmit all kinds of data. One of the many uses for such advances revolves around security.

With the right point-to-point products in place, gathering security data is now easier than ever. You no longer have to deal with the limitations and hassles of wired networks or leasing lines. Your data can be transmitted to you directly from devices using light or radio technologies.

Before you purchase a system, however, you need to understand the two main technologies available to you: FSO and RF.

What is FSO?

FSO stands for Free Space Optics. This form of communications technology has been in use for decades by military interests, but it has only recently started to gain commercial attention.

FSO performs under the same basic principles that make fiber optic cables the preferred method of transmitting data, except that FSO does it wirelessly. Instead of bouncing a beam of light along a specially insulated cable, FSO technology uses a point-to-point system whereby beams of light are simply transmitted to receivers.

These optical bandwidth connections allow the transfer of not only data, but also voice and video, which is why these technologies are ideal for security purposes. Even better, the information is transferred at the speed of light, which is much faster than transmitting data via wired systems, even those featuring fiber optic cable.

That said, light wavelengths must be carefully calibrated for successful transmission of information and the distance between transmitter and receiver cannot be very far. Further, the line of sight must be clear to avoid interference.

What is RF?

RF stands for Radio Frequency. Like FSO, this technology is intended to collect and send data wirelessly from a transmitter to a receiver. However, RF systems do this by using electromagnetic waves set to specific frequencies.

Unlike FSO, this signal does not travel at the speed of light (but rather the speed of sound), although the difference is negligible for human purposes. It is still much faster than using a wired system.

The transmission of data is limited by both range and capacity of information that can be transferred (data rate). Further, permission to use radio frequency bandwidth must be obtained from the government through proper licensure.

Is One Better Than the Other?

Before you decide on the right technology for your security system, it’s important to consider several factors, including speed, distance, accuracy, and of course, cost.

Surprisingly, FSO and RF technologies can be comparably priced, but you need to consider what you’ll get for your money. RF technologies tend to transmit over longer distances, but sends less information, and at slower speeds.

While you can upgrade to RF systems that are more in line with FSO in terms of data rates, you’re going to pay a lot more money for them, making FSO more affordable. Your best bet is probably to speak with a knowledgeable dealer in order to gain a better understanding of what these two technologies offer and which will work best for your budget and your security needs.

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