It’s amazing how dramatically our industry has changed in just the last few years. As plain old telephone systems (POTS) gradually go extinct, new technologies, including IP and GSM, are making their mark on the fire alarm and security market. And I for one am excited for the future.
A bit about how I became such a supporter of GSM and IP: I’ve been a Honeywell dealer for years, working with many different Fire-Lite technologies. When Honeywell created AlarmNet, I was excited about the possibilities—especially since phone companies had long been talking about the inevitable death of POTS. We learned about GSM through its connection with AlarmNet, and for the most part, we’ve used GSM (often with an IP back-up) for all our fire alarm systems even since. I’m also in the process of converting our burglar alarms to GSM as well.
At Diamond Communications, Inc., we encourage our customers to use GSM or a combination of GSM and IP for alarm communications, and I believe many dealers can benefit from doing the same. From my perspective, there are three main reasons to monitor over GSM and/or IP:
1. Reliability is maximized.
In my experience of operating the Diamond Communications, Inc., Central Station, GSM is the most reliable method available today. Phone lines can easily go down, and even internet connectivity is spotty in some areas. To ensure the most reliable monitoring connection, we encourage our customers to go the GSM route, with IP as an optional back-up.
In addition to improved reliability, GSM pings the central station hourly, signaling that the system is working as it should. POTS lines send a signal only once every 24 hours. For POTS customers, their system could be down for a full day without them knowing, leaving them vulnerable to unreported fire.
2. Your customers save money every month.
Here’s another compelling reason for your customers to embrace GSM and IP: It can save them a significant amount of money. For two dedicated POTS lines, many of my customers in California were paying the phone company approximately $100-$120 a month. But GSM does away with that cost altogether, saving each customer approximately 50 percent per month. Over the life of a system, that difference adds up quickly.
3. Security is improved.
Traditional POTS lines can easily be cut or tampered with. And since POTS systems only communicate with the central station every 24 hours, a line could be down for a while before a problem is detected.
However, GSM and IP do away with these types of security concerns, since there is no physical wire to be cut.
Looking to the Future
The transition from POTS to GSM and IP is the biggest change in the industry since communicators were invented. GSM and IP are the next step forward, which is why we’re enthusiastic about offering the technology to our customers and letting them know how it can benefit them.
In my experience, a GSM is more reliable especially given the fact that the technology is more reliable, secure and can save them money. So if you’re looking to transition your fire alarm customers to GSM, be sure to really highlight these differentiators. You might be surprised at how much your business benefits.
About the Author
Michael Tarin is the President of Diamond Communications, Inc., based in Madera, Calif. Founded in 1968 with a focus on electrical work, Diamond Communications, Inc., has since transitioned into fire alarm and security technology. The company has its own Central Station and provides installation, service and monitoring for fire alarm and security systems. Since receiving National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) certification, Diamond Communications, Inc., also designs and engineers fire alarm systems.