Let’s explore the relationship between telecom networks, and the necessity of communications redundancy for alarm and security systems.
The recent Rogers internet and cellular outage in Canada has been more than an inconvenience. It is also a stark reminder of our risky dependence on unreliable communications infrastructure. While internet outages in Canada are not uncommon, the severity and duration of this recent event is notable. Cellular and internet access was down, making personal and professional communications nearly impossible. Businesses where unable to process payments or access inventory systems. Even emergency services were unavailable to millions of telecom customers.
Security alarms and property monitoring services are also at-risk during a telecom outage.
It is important to have redundant lines of communication for alarm security systems to function properly. Monitored surveillance video and other proactive commercial security tools depend on reliable communication systems.
What are the most commonly available forms of security system communications redundancy?
There are 4 commonly used communication methods for alarm systems. Here are some pros and cons:
- Telephone lines – The most common communication method for alarm systems over the years has been telephone lines. However, there are two significant drawbacks to depending solely on physical telephone lines. As communications technology moves to digital, regular phone lines are becoming more expensive. Traditional telephone lines can be unreliable and vulnerable to physical damage. In many burglary scenarios, criminals can identify and cut telephone lines from outside the building. Damage to telephone lines can prevent alarm notifications from being sent to a security monitoring service or alarm company.
- Internet –Many newer alarm panels can communicate via the internet. If there is already internet at the building, this can be an inexpensive solution. However, installation of internet systems can be expensive. Like telephone lines, internet communications are vulnerable and can be disabled by being cut or damaged. An internet or wifi outage will disrupt security system services.
- GSMs – GSM or cellular communicators have been used for many years as reliable alarm communicators. These cellular communicators need frequent upgrading to meet current network standards. With cellular technology progression from 2G to 3G, 3G to 4G, LTE and soon 5G, the older GSM alarm communicator models stop being supported. Lost functionality with each advance in GSM and cellular technology means this method must kept up-to-date.
- Radio – ProTELEC developed a proprietary radio network for alarm systems in the mid 1990’s. This network continues to be used and protects thousands of businesses today. Unlike GSMs, this radio system does not become obsolete. The radio network is kept current, and radios at customer locations are maintained at no additional cost.
What are the best combinations of communication systems for security and alarm system redundancy?
At ProTELEC we want to minimize any chance of an alarm system failure. The July 2022 Rogers telecom outage is a perfect example of the severity of risk if relying on only one communications system. Our recommendation is to always have at least two methods of monitoring alarms. So which combinations are best?
Telephone or Internet and Radio
Telephone or Internet and GSM
Radio and GSM
We strongly recommend avoiding a combination of only telephone and internet, Both of these forms of communication are delivered via external wires, which can be cut or damaged.