June 29 ,2020
There are many options for how your alarm system will communicate with the monitoring station. Unfortunately, many homeowners and business owners put very little thought into the different communications technologies that are available and how these technologies can impact the protection they get from an alarm system. Often this is driven by price and the home or business owner does not understand what they are actually getting.
It is something we see all the time. We consult with a potential customer and give them a quote and they tell us about a system from another alarm company that has cheaper monitoring plans. The customer thinks they are the same because the systems have a range of similar devices (door contacts, motion detectors, etc.) but they aren’t!
How Reliable is Alarm Monitoring Communication System?
When we look into it, many of these competing systems have one thing in common: the alarm panel needs to communicate to the central monitoring station. This is important because this is how your alarm panel sends signals to you and the authorities in the event of a break-in. If the communication path is compromised in some way, the signals won’t come in as they should, and the monitoring station won’t be able to provide the appropriate response.
So many homeowners get talked into purchasing an alarm system that provides inferior protection because they don’t understand their options. What makes it worse is that the sales reps from many alarm companies use tactics to intentionally obscure some of the information. It is only after the customer has paid for the system and entered into a contract that they realize the alarm system might not provide the protection they want.
At Cornerstone Protection, we are committed to providing homes and businesses with the best protection possible. As a part of our mission, we believe that it is important for customers to understand how the communications options differ and how it can affect your security.
How Does Alarm System Communications Work?
As we already mentioned, your security system needs to be able to communicate with the monitoring center to send alarm signals. In this section, we are going to cover the different options that are available.
1. Telephone Landline
This was the only option for communications in the early days. The security system installer would connect a telephone line to the alarm panel and the system would send signals to the monitoring station over the connected phone line.
While this does serve the purpose in most situations, telephone lines do have vulnerabilities. Many burglars know where to find the phone lines on a home or business and they will simply cut the line before breaking in. Voila!!….they have just disabled the security system. There is also the potential that the phone alarm system could be knocked out during a storm.
2. Internet Communications
This is a newer alarm system communication technology and it does have some advantage over telephone landline. Most notably, you can transmit a broader array and larger volume of data through an internet connection. This can be useful because the system can connect to a cloud server for uploading video from security cameras or for storing records of alarm system activity.
With this type of system, the alarm panel would connect to your home or business network over Wi-Fi. When the system is in operation, it would communicate all signals and data over the internet. This simplifies installation and it has the advantage of making the system and monitoring a lot cheaper.
The lower cost does make this option attractive to many homeowners, but it does come with vulnerabilities that are similar to telephone landlines. A smart burglar would cut the wire for your internet connection before trying to enter the home or business and disable the alarm communicator… Additionally, if the power goes out, your modem and router stop working and that would interrupt the communication of the alarm system.
3. 3G Wireless Cellular Alarm Monitoring
When you go with 3G wireless communication, the panel has a wireless communicator that is used to send signals over mobile phone towers. This was a great option because it provides reliable communications that are not easy for a burglar to disrupt.
While this type of system could provide protection that is better than landline or internet, there is one problem: the 3G sunset. Mobile service providers are phasing out 3G technology and it won’t be long before this equipment is obsolete.
Unfortunately, there are a few less than ethical operators in the industry who are still trying to sell this equipment. They see the 3G sunset coming and they are in a hurry to get rid of this equipment before it is worthless. If you are looking for a system that has wireless communication, make sure to ask if the system is 3G or LTE.
4. LTE Communications
LTE is the latest in mobile wireless communications technology. Like 3G, these systems communicate over mobile phone towers, but this wireless technology is designed to be up to date and adaptable to future changes to mobile communications networks.
If you want mobile communications, this is the technology to look for. It can reliably transmit signals to the monitoring station and it is made to be ready for the future.
5. Dual-Path Connectivity
This is the gold standard for alarm systems communication. It combines LTE and broadband (Internet) to provide two paths for the system to transmit data. This not only provides redundancy if one communication path is disrupted, but it also provides smarter communications management for enhanced security.
One of our favorite panels, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, uses this type of dual-path connectivity. Even beyond redundancy, the system is always monitoring the connections for speed and reliability so it can choose the right path for transmitting data.
Always Ask About How Your Alarm System Will Communicate With The Monitoring Station
It is an unfortunate reality, but you can’t trust every alarm system provider you talk to. Many of them prioritize selling a system over providing the best advice possible. You’ll also find many who use dishonest advertising to get you to call and then they use various tactics to sell customers on substandard systems or devices that only provide limited protection.
As an example, you might see an ad that boasts a really low monthly rate for security system monitoring. What the ad doesn’t mention is that this rate is only for a system that communicates over a telephone landline or internet. They know that a lot of homes don’t have landlines anymore. The point is to get you on the phone or to schedule an in-person visit so they can sell you on something more expensive.
Another trick relates to the issue we mentioned at the beginning of this post. The alarm system installer will advertise really low prices for the system and monitoring, but what they don’t mention is that it only covers systems that communicate over the internet. Once they have you on the phone or sitting across from them, they know there is a good chance they can make the sale before you have a chance to talk to anyone else.
This is why communications should be one of your top questions when you call a security system company. Ask them about the types of communications it uses to send signals. If they are advertising a price for the system or monitoring, make sure to ask if that price applies to features like LTE communications or dual path connectivity.
The last thing you want is to pay for a system and have it installed only to find out that it doesn’t provide the protection you need. Be prepared when you talk to an alarm system installer, know what you want, and ask the right questions.
How Cornerstone Protection Can Help?
We value our reputation too much to risk it just to get one more sale. Cornerstone Protection is a local Central Kentucky alarm system company and we take great pride in the services we provide the community.
Our experts will always be willing to answer any questions you have and we strive to be as transparent as possible when it comes to pricing and what you can expect from the different alarm systems and devices we sell.
We offer a range of alarm systems that have different communications options and that includes models that have dual-path connectivity. We also offer different monitoring plans that cover the costs for options like landline, internet, and LTE. If you need to learn more, you can contact our Cornerstone Protection team for a free consultation.