ESA Discusses Internet As A Security System Communication Pathway To The Central Station With Telguard
ESA interviewed Telguard’s Senior Director of Technical Services, Daniel Rosales to discuss everything about using internet as a security system and how it is a communication pathway to central stations and Telguard’s solution to tackling this issue using Dual Path Communicators and LAN. Telguard is also the first to market with a complete lineup of All American-made, All 5G LTE-M Fire Alarm Communicators.
Is the internet a viable path for sending alarm signals?
Absolutely. The internet is a viable pathway for delivering alarm events to Central Stations. In fact, internet protocol has been used for many years by central station receivers as a great alternative for the fading dial-up delivery method that uses PSTN. As with any technology, it is not perfect but the big advantage that using the internet holds over using analog systems like PSTN is that being an all-digital network allows the signal to be delivered with minimal chances of data corruption and extremely fast. So while using internet protocol is not perfect, and some data packets can get corrupted, the speed at which they are sent makes the retries happen fast enough to be efficient.
If the internet is so reliable, what is the downside of using an internet connection to communicate signals from a supervised site?
The main disadvantage comes from how access to the internet is provided at the supervised sites. Access is provided through a LAN connection. LAN stands for Local Area Network, which is essentially the network that is created within a building to distribute access to all devices that need internet access. To illustrate LAN better, think of a LAN connection starting with the router in your house, and anything that is connecting to your router is part of your Local Area Network. The issue that we see with the LAN connection is that it is privately managed by the end-user. When you use something like cellular, the device is managed by the integrator, and the service is a service that is managed by the carrier. In other words, while the device is your responsibility as a dealer, the service is the responsibility of the service provider.
There are two concerns when connecting via the internet. During set up, the fact that the LAN is managed by the end user (in commercial applications, this is usually an IT department) means that there are likely restrictions, and limitations on the type of devices and connectivity that is allowed on the network. Especially nowadays that data security is such a hot topic, we often encounter hesitation when it comes to allowing new devices on the network and opening ports. The second problem that we may run into, is that even when get through the first hurdle and have that internet communicator setup, changes to the network could happen without the dealer/integrator’s knowledge. Whether it be an equipment change within the network or a revised security policy, changes could happen that may render the internet communicator unable to send signals.
What is Telguard’s solution?
While Telguard believes that internet protocol is a pathway we should continue to embrace, the fact that access is dependent on someone else other than the installer/dealer still makes it a scary proposition as a stand-alone option. Telguard’s solution is a Dual Path communicator series for Commercial Intrusion and Commercial Fire, which always maintains an active cellular connection.
We mitigate the issues with LAN in two ways. On the one hand, we design the device to use internet connectivity exclusively to initiate outbound transactions. This is possible because we can always use the cellular path to communicate inbound. When it comes to network security, the major concern is usually with allowing communications into a secured network. The Telguard Dual Path was designed to establish internet communications from the device, and when there is a need to establish a connection from the outside, the cellular path is used. On the other hand, we understand that the physical router, firewalls, and rules associated with the network are managed by the end user. This is something that we cannot control, but by providing permanent access into the communicator over the cellular path, there is always a redundant path that allows messages to be delivered, and it allows dealers and integrators to reconfigure the LAN settings in the communicator as needed, on the fly.