According to the Mayan calendar, the year 2012 will mark the end of the world. If that’s not compelling enough, then know that something else of interest to the security industry will also draw to a close in 2012: the second generation of cellular hardware products, or 2G.
As 3G smartphones have rendered landlines obsolete, 2G cellular communicators—GSM or GPRS—have been essential to maintaining customers. If you’re like most independent security dealers, 2G has allowed you to earn more recurring monthly revenue (RMR) from your existing customers, which is something to remember since new system growth has waned during the ongoing economic downturn. Indeed, cellular technology has been central to recent advancements within the industry. All-in-one panels that greatly simplified the installation process; quick replacements for lost landlines; the extension of the keypad’s functionality beyond the walls of the home; and even the vast array of new security products from small, motion-triggered cameras to access-control systems—these are but a few examples of what 2G has made possible.
Technology, however, is always evolving and 2G is giving way to 3G. In fact, the upgrade to 3G has already taken place for mobile phones: carriers wanted the newer technology because it allowed more concurrent voice calls per square mile, while consumers wanted it because of increased download speeds. Elsewhere, industries that adopted cellular for more work-day tasks like delivering alarm signals or remotely reading a power meter resisted the move to 3G. After all, adopting 3G technology can increase the price of a product dramatically without a noticeable increase in functionality.
The culmination of it all
In 2012, the transition to 3G will no longer be a matter of choice. That’s because carriers are already migrating their product lines to 3G. A major cellular carrier in the U.S. recently stopped certifying 2G-only products of any kind and remaining carriers are sure to follow suit.
Another indicator is the shift of a carrier’s preferred resources to 3G. Cellular carriers operate two overlapping networks—one at 850MHz and another at 1900MHz. While both networks support 2G and 3G, 850MHz is far better at penetrating solid structures than 1900MHz. So it’s worth noting that markets like Philadelphia have already shifted some capacity at 850MHz to 3G, which resigns the 2G devices in those areas to weaker signals as they re-attach to the 1900MHz network. Starting in 2012, this will happen more often, as will the service calls related to these changes.
The next step in the evolution process
This is why we at Telguard believe we’ll see an explosion of products in 2012 offering 3G cellular technologies. The trend started in late 2011, when Telguard launched the security industry’s first 3G cellular alarm communicator. 3G gets preferred treatment on the carrier’s network and it’s clearly the path toward which carriers are nudging their customers. As dealers evaluate product choices over the next year, they’ll need to pay close attention to the cellular technology that is powering the product and ask: 3G or the soon-to-be-obsolete 2G? The savvy dealer will realize the importance of using modern technology and choose the product with 3G.
Shawn Welsh is the vice president of Marketing and Business Development for Telular Corp., Chicago and a well-respected speaker on cellular trends.
Get on the Wireless Network
KORE’s Quickstart Program encompasses a cellular module developer kit enhanced with ClearConnex’s ClearComm software agent and direct access to the KORE wireless M2M network. The program enables M2M solutions developers to prototype and test their devices and applications by choosing from a set of pre-packaged SKUs and certified device hardware from Richardson RFPD.
Integrators: cellular network tips
As businesses and residences follow the trend of “going wireless,” many security installers and providers are incorporating wireless technology into their offerings. For years, installers relied on their customers to provide and pay for communications from the premises to the central station. But now, as the trend moves toward connectivity with no restrictions, many providers must deliver wireless solutions in a once predominantly hardwired world.
The solution must come in the form of simplicity, reliability and support, all the while remaining cost-effective for the provider and customer. Systems installers are now changing their business models for something that is literally up in the air.
Here’s what systems integrators and installng companies should look for in wireless connectivity:
Competitive pricing models–As security installers make the transition from hardwired to wireless, the number one concern is the day’s end number. This naturally raises some concerns about the cost of cellular service, which is often the biggest barrier to adoption. There is some misunderstanding in the marketplace for those who believe that cellular wireless service plans for alarm panels are similar in structure or cost to a voice cellphone plan. The fact is that cellular data services for security transmissions are billed on a low-cost per-usage basis, rather than a high monthly subscription. The point here is to make sure you only pay for the data you use.
Consistent and dependable support–Providing security and monitoring services requires around-the-clock attention. Similarly, the providers of security services expect and depend on their wireless network to offer them constant connectivity. When choosing a wireless provider, be sure they provide 24/7 live support and allow alarm companies to manage their own activations and deactivations at any time.
Network reliability–As more tier-one wireless carriers claim to be the “nation’s most reliable,” KORE’s M2M network provides customers unparalleled connectivity while offering all the added benefits of multiple redundancies. Bottom line: security providers never have to worry about a coverage lapse.
The M2M wireless communications market holds a number of new opportunities for systems integrators. Whether it’s primary or back-up communication, wireless technology provides a variety of new services and revenue opportunities for physical security providers. Just make sure your provider offers all the services you need.
Stefan Spurrell is the national sales manager, Canada for KORE Telematics Inc., with 16 years experience in the communication industry. He entered the M2M business in 2001, playing a key role in building Rogers Wireless (Canada) first M2M data sales channel.