Connecting With Communications

The Issues and Solutions Go Beyond Alarm Reporting


This month’s focus is on products which use the three most important technologies affecting our industry: cellular, VoIP, and networks. Communication issues are a concern right now and will be for the coming years because:

The impending “AMPS Sunset” still occupies the industry’s frontal lobe as the association attempts to stop the clock on the impending shutdown of the analog cellular network. You know, AMPS is analog cellular used by the majority of legacy alarm controls for backup reporting.
Jupiter Research predicts 12.1 million U.S. households will be using VoIP by 2009, while Osterman Research predicts that 45 percent of U.S. businesses and organizations will be using VoIP by the end of 2007. Network industry insiders predict that traditional phones will be gone in five to ten years, replaced by “softphones.”
What does this mean for the millions of homes and businesses whose traditional security system relies on dedicated terrestrial phone lines and the security professionals who provide them? It seems pretty obvious: big changes.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), where “IP” is one of the two protocols associated with Ethernet and the other routable topologies. (“Protocol” in this case does not refer to how many steps you stay behind royalty at the reception, but rather governs how networks organize and transmit data.)

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is the suite of communications protocols used to connect hosts on the Internet. This technology was originally developed by the U.S. Department of Defense in the 60s. TCP/IP uses several protocols, the two main ones being TCP and IP. “Host” is another name for a network appliance such as a computer with a NIC (Network Interface Card). TCP establishes a virtual connection between a destination and a source. IP addresses the data and puts it into the system, so together TCP/IP establishes a connection and enables the transfer of data. In actuality, TCP/IP refers to several protocols, but in the interest of keeping things simple, the term “TCP/IP” or even just “IP” is generally used to refer to several sub-protocols.

The important feature of these protocols is that they are routable, meaning the data may be addressed and transferred between networks. Networks are either wired or wireless, and the virtual connections you use every day routinely bridge over from hardwired to wireless networks, and then back again in order to enable communications.

The OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model helps both network designers and users to better understand and troubleshoot networks and network appliances. There are seven “layers” in the OSI model, and you will frequently hear them mentioned in technical literature.

The OSI model has been compared to the addressed envelope. The hierarchy of how you organize the address on an envelope is analogous to the way a network determines how to get the data from one point to the other, and then it opens the envelope and disseminates its contents. The address on the envelope is the data “header” where the protocols are contained, and the envelope is the packet (data payload). The different devices used in networks such as routers, hubs, switches and bridges, operate at different layers of the OSI model in order to get the data through at each layer.

It is in the best interest of security dealer integrators learn about IP networks. In the meantime, here are some new products to make your communication complexities a bit simpler.

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