More alarm communications going wireless

Researchers from ABI Research noted this week a trend that you may have already seen in your alarm business: A steady decrease in the number of POTS-based alarm backhaul lines, and a steady increase in wireless alarm system connections.

According to a report from ABI Research, the number of wireless security alarm connections will increase from 2.5 million in 2007 to more than 7.5 million by 2013.

Sam Lucero, analyst with ABI credited "the continuing decline of landline voice services and the increasing utilization of second phone lines for DSL broadband services" as driving alarm connections over cellular networks. But he also cautioned alarm dealers, noting that the cellular connection modules are typically more expensive than standard POTS dialers and hard-wired Ethernet/web connectivity. Lucero also noted that many technicians also still need training on how to deploy cellular connections for alarm systems.

Lucero pointed to providers such as AT&T, Aeris, Jasper Wireless, Numerex and KORE Telematics as some of the cellular connection technology service providers who stand to benefit from the trend.

Also in the mix is AES-Intellinet, a private radio service company that has developed a system to allow alarm communications to monitoring stations. Mark Branstein, chief operating officer for AES-Intellinet, said the growth is being driven not only by the AMPS (analog cellular) sunet, but also by the general drop in number of users of standard PTSN telephone networks. Complicating the matter, says Branstein, is that many alarm systems in place in homes and business don't work with Internet connections and voice over IP systems that have been adopted in place of traditional wired phone systems.

Branstein noted that while growth in cellular has been strong for alarm communications, digital cellular will experience the same challenge of obsoleted technology that analog cellular faced in February of this year. He said that in 5 or 6 years, the current CDMA, GSM and GPRS cellular communicators will be obsoleted by the forthcoming 3G cellular networks. The current stock of cellular communicators for alarm systems are based on the current GSM/GPRS formats, even as new 3G devices (like the rumored 3G Apple iPhone) come to market. According to Branstein, private radio networks for alarm backhauls are still a minority compared to cellular units; he estimated that private radio systems like AES-Intellinet have about 10-20 percent of the overall wireless alarm communications market.

The research on wireless alarm connections was part of ABI's new report "Home Automation and Security".