Cellular for Fire systems is no longer just the future, it is the Present
Cellular for Fire systems is no longer just the future, it is the present… and what we can do with that pathway is the doorway to the future. ESA sat down with Daniel Rosales, Telguard’s Senior Director of Technical Services to discuss Cellular Communication Pathways.
Cellular technology has been around for a while, is it still a viable source for added RMR?
Absolutely. I believe that today more than ever, cellular technology is a source for added RMR that cannot be ignored. By now, the basic advantages are well known to integrators in the US and north of the border: the ability to gain the recurring revenue that would normally go to the telephone companies while also gaining reliable control over the communication path with a higher supervision level that promotes more confidence.
Although the technology is well known, and approved by most jurisdictions around the country, there is still a high percentage of fire systems that still rely on old fashioned telephone systems (POTS lines).
Where is the opportunity for cellular after over a decade of existence in the Fire market?
With the recent FCC and other federal regulatory changes that are pushing forward the transition of telephone lines away from copper wire and into the digital era, 2023 is primed to be a big transitional year, in which these telco-connected systems will need a different way to communicate.
More than in previous years, we are more likely to see property managers and building owners seeking out alternatives to—increasingly—costly POTS connections. 2023 will be a crucial year. With the industrywide acceptance of LTE as the standard cellular technology with an anticipated lifetime of 10+ years, and with leading companies like Telguard pushing forward more future-proof technologies such as LTE-M that are bound to last even longer, systems that transition to use cellular technology will not be sunsetting anytime soon.
This means that for a lot of these systems that will look to transition away from POTS, the need to switch equipment may not come again for some time, and those integrators that have the proper options will be able to reap the rewards from the POTS sunset, while those that do not have the right products in their portfolio will miss out on an opportunity that may not come again for another 10+ years. Products like Telguard that offer the latest cellular technology with a universal approach (compatibility to most panels and formats than any peer) should be a part of every integrator’s toolbox in 2023.
What other features, emerging technologies, and opportunities are out there to capture more RMR?
At the core of cellular for fire alarm systems is the functionality to locally alert and remotely annunciate to supervising stations. One emerging trend that fire panel manufacturers are investing in, is the use of cloud services to not only enhance the integrators’ ability to better manage their systems, but at times also provide a different level of access and service for property managers and owners.
When the option is available, this is a great opportunity to provide better service, possibly expand RMR, but most importantly provide a service that not only differentiates you as an integrator, but also makes the account stickier. Access to historical panel data from different mobile interfaces, and even services like Test and Inspect can be enhanced through cloud integration that deliver panel data via the internet.
Where does cellular go beyond 2023, and how can it take advantage of these emerging trends?
The downside and the main reason why these aforementioned cloud features haven’t been as widely adopted as they should have, is the same reason why internet hasn’t taken off as a single path of communication for fire systems: internet security continues to be a hot topic that becomes an insurmountable hurdle for some customers.
This is where the use of cellular to take over not only alarm transmissions, but also this auxiliary panel data will prove to be the ultimate tool.
Telguard has already made great strides in evolving the concept of cellular communications to include cloud service through partnerships with notable panel manufacturers like Honeywell, but what it has been able to accomplish with cloud services today is just the beginning of what a non-intrusive technology like cellular for fire systems can provide for panel manufacturers, integrators, and consumers.