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  1. I've just returned from a trip to Sydney where we are setting up WebWay Australia. The market for Alarm Transmission is reportedly in the region of a million monitored systems, however unlike the UK they are not driven by Insurance nor strict adherence to standards compliance. There is the Australian & New Zealand AS2201 standard, their equivalent to EN50136 (in some respects). At present there is no concept of a confirmed event and Police response is on request of the Keyholder or Guarding company on a single activation.

    What is impressive in Australia is the radio coverage. 4G is prevalent and there is a national program of Broadband roll out. The aggressive spread of 4G services means that 3G has almost been bypassed. 4G has greater reach and building penetration and is suited to the far and remote areas that are common place in Australia. I'm told you can get 4G up the top of a mountain in the middle of the desert!

    For WebWayOne, the dual technology cells are perfect for the deployment of our Mk6 platforms enabled for 3G and intelligent roaming. If you want to "play" in the Australian market, then you need 3G as a minimum, otherwise its not worth bothering. This really is a peak into the future for our market. The network operators are now actively "farming" data from 2G services to enhance the consumer 3G and 4G experience and this is already having an impact on ATS services in certain regions.

    The Operators are calling this the "Sunset period" of 2G services with 2020 a stake in the ground where 2G will no longer be offered on new contracts.

    The decision we took 12 months ago to standardise on a 3G platform was definitely a "good call". Changing a GSM module is a significant hardware deviation. The upshot is, if we had stuck with a 2G module we would have been faced with a re-submission of the product for testing and 3rd party certification. That's a severe investment in time and cost avoided.

    Our industry relies heavily on mobile technology and there will need to be a cultural change before long, particularly in view of the rapid growth of data services and the demands of consumers. Our industry is conditioned to product lifetimes of 10 to 15 years, but this is a dynasty in mobile technology terms. At WebWayOne we are now at a Mk6 release, with at least 4 of these determined by a change in the GSM module, all having been 2G up until the release of the Mk6. We have managed to maintain costs over these transitions, no small feat when you compare this to the consumer world.

    Consider back in 2005 when we first began to roll out IP/GPRS systems. The Nokia 9300 was released, you'll no doubt recall it was a clam shell design with full qwerty keyboard. It was the same year the Motorola RAZR was launched. It was another two years before the iPhone first made an appearance. We swop, change, upgrade our mobiles every few years, but we expect our signalling devices to last 5 or 6 times that length of time.

    We are actively looking at the next generation of modules now, with 4G likely to be available in Q1 next year, but with the price of 4G modules being high, I don't expect these to be viable for our market for some time. But never say never. 3G is, we are told, not going to "die" for the foreseeable future, but 2G certainly does have a life expectancy and it is not that far away.

    We have upgrade programs are in progress with a 3G plug-on in the pipeline for Mk5 boards and full board updates for roughly the same cost as an HG antenna. By the way, the data re-farming issues cannot be solved with an alternate antenna.

    So my advice is to be prepared. Start reviewing your 2G deployments soon, and make sure they have an upgrade path. Think seriously about the deployment of any new 2G devices, look for future proofing your signalling now. The alternative could well be a swop out of the 2G device in around 5 years time, if not sooner. Attached is an article on the subject of 2G farming, it's worth a read.

    Sunset for GPRS final.pdf

  2. blog-0411258001399942421.jpg.

    We should be utilising Dual SIM card devices to improve security and resilience...

    As anyone in the Electronic Security industry will be aware, there have recently been many reported intermittent failures across all of the current Major Network Operators (MNO's) such as T-Mobile and Vodafone

    Some of this has been the result of MNOs upgrading their services to support 4G signalling (In some cases re-purposing 2G bandwidth for 4G services). Other outages have been due to planned maintenance work in the majority of cases. A small number have been the result of unplanned and unforeseen technical issues.

    Our friends in Éire have also seen a number of instances where the mobile communications have been blocked intentionally by those seeking to attack a protected site or asset.

    A significant proportion of the devices which currently utilise GPRS / 3G connections are dual path devices where the signal can be routed through the alternate path in the event of such an outage - Just as it was designed to do so.

    We are as an industry, increasingly embracing the idea of replacing single path PSTN devices with (in some cases) single path mobile path devices. Some would contend that the death of PSTN connectivity is a certainty at some point in the future. It can certainly be agreed that pressures to compress data traffic of analogue communications could lead to further issues such as seen previously.

    If we are to go ahead with such a mass migration of signalling devices, across to a medium that is currently under significant pressure to evolve, then we should ensure that we are taking all appropriate steps to mitigate any potential for our single path devices to fail to signal.

    I propose that we should adopt Dual SIM devices wherever possible to improve our capacity to overcome either malicious attempts to prevent signalling and also provide for redundancy of communications when a MNO has an outage of their core networks (something which has happened too often already).

    Some providers may indicate that they already provide a SIM capable of switching between several networks. This is absolutely true, however, what is not made clear in some cases is that an outage of the MNO with whom the SIM is hosted would mean that the SIM cannot 'lock onto' another network and is in effect rendered incapable of signalling due to an outage of a single supplier.

    With a Dual SIM card device, each SIM can have a different host network and as such provide much greater resilience. A number of smart phones already utilise Dual SIM capability, in part to support international travel and also in part for improved signalling capability and fault mitigation.

    As an industry we have for many years struggled to keep up with the changing pace of technology. In this aspect, we should now take the lead and establish the very best practise in the tradition of true British engineering and quality.

    Take the time to encourage your signalling providers of choice and the ARCs you utilise to support this approach and set the bar higher in our continuing fight to secure and protect our end users.

  3. ?

    what ever your drinking i'll keep to Ovaltine ;).

    I don't identify labour out separately, i have a points system as part of unit costing for devices, and extra points for longer or more difficult cable runs, with ease points when you have 3 detectors adjcent as in many houses

    be daft to charge the same for a back door as one 100 yards down a factory as example, same distance in an office would likely not require an access tower, perhaps just a podium.

    once you set up to your own format it is relatively simple tbh

    Source: Quotation Calculation For Hours

  4. blog-0776983001362058466.jpgDo we give thoughtful technical consideration to the future when

    providing customers signalling?

    Digital communicators are becoming a less utilised method of alarm transmission

    thats true but do we need to give up on the Dinosaur?

    With manufactures developing more intuitive devices and offering additional added

    extras such as, Remote Maintenance, meaning you can omit 1 of your 2 maintenace vists,

    UPDL for remote diagnostics, visual verification for intruder and HUA without costly DVR's

    and the ability to integrate with other devices giving you added features to sell, should we see

    the end?

    These added extras means the installer and/or ARC can tidy up the balance sheet and account for any added annual costs.

    Easy sell to the customer too, saves on phone call charges and the customer has the ability if the so wished to save on a telephone line.

    Many installers are steadfast in an approach of only processing 'futureproofed' technologies with a view for tomorrow but many continue to install this type of signalling and Digital communicators still makes up a significant percentage of

    the UK's signalling estate.

    For those still installing or maintaining this form of signalling could it be time for a review?

    Do we continue until the switch is turned off?

    Its a certain inevitability that this technology will be extinct in the future, but how near is this future? what is the realistic shelf life of the Digital Communicator?

  5. I don’t think that anyone would disagree that the security industry has changed significantly over the last few years. In the intruder alarm business, the revenue focus has shifted from profit on the supply and installation of equipment to profit on the life of the contract or take overs. CCTV is heading down the same path so how can CCTV manufacturers help facilitate the “recurring revenue” business model?

    The Key for me is the DVR. (The target market for this are End Users that would typically purchase an >4 camera system with a standalone DVR)

    In this blog, I hope to describe how a DVR (if it were available) could not only help you generate additional recurring revenue but also protect your business from online sellers and part time security companies.

    For the professional Security Installer:

    Consider how the following would affect your business and sales approach of CCTV:

    Upgradeable DVR: DVR is built to what the customer requires now, keeping initial costs to a minimum while future proofing the installation. Add additional channels and/or megapixel channels as required, add integration possibilities or other modules - the possibilities are endless.

    Cloud Integrated DVR: Properly integrated with a cloud could allow for certain services to be performed off-site . Analytics, storage, till monitoring, etc. These could generate additional monthly revenue.

    Integrated DVR: DVR can add value to existing security equipment, by associating cameras with sensors or control points for example. This point focuses on a key strength of a professional security installer which is their knowledge of Intruder, Access, Fire, etc and making use of that in a CCTV system. Something a part time security company is not likely to be able to offer.

    Professional Services: Know before your customer when there is an issue (camera loss, hdd, etc), ability to show your customer “how to” remotely (think PC Anywhere functionality), speed up commissioning and setups by downloading your company specific configurations, logos, etc. directly to the DVR.

    The above is just a snapshot of an overall system design (blog would be way too long), the above elements should describe how it may help retain customers and generate revenue from additional service offerings/upgrades but much can be done to help attract new customers in the first place.

    For the End User:

    The marketing people generally look for what they term USPs or Unique Selling Points, these are functions or services that will make a product or service stand out from the competition, consider the following if you were selling a DVR:

    No more passwords – fingerprint reader maybe!

    No more downloads – Even without off-site storage; this can be achieved through on-board removable storage and mirroring for example.

    Tutorials – Ability to play either online or on-board tutorials for common functions.

    Business tool – A DVR offers a Visual Record of what is going on in a business, through cloud analytics it would be possible to offer a customer a summary of the days operation based on their predefined requirements. A DVR that offers a report that’s worth reading??

    More intuitive Interface – This is an area that can be greatly improved in my opinion, I have heard comments on various DVRs and which ones are easy to use but remember the time when Nokia was considered easy to use (excluding windows 8 ofcourse)? Consider the following:

    A touch interface,

    The beauty of a touch interface is that it generally only offers options relevant to the current function and hide set-up functions when the engineer is not logged in which can simplify its operation significantly, that in itself is not that unique but the difference is touch enabled operation versus touch optimised operation.

    I have researched and watched many videos on touch operated DVRs but they completely miss the point in my opinion. Some have had nice sliders for adjusting the brightness, recording frame rates, etc but that’s touch setup not touch operation. Even LiLin’s recent release “NVR Touch”, which was built from first day to be a touch operated NVR but it too misses the point.

    A touch optimised DVR interface would have no need for channel numbers, instead the user would “interact with images”.

    To explain, consider your Android or Apple phone, each of the icons on the screen as camera image. You can move them around, duplicate or remove. To adjust a cameras settings, you simply select it and click the option, to playback/back-up a number of cameras, you select them, drag them and drop them either in the playback or back-up area. No need for channel numbers!

    Besides the Android like operation, if it were based on Android (not suggesting this is a good idea), what apps could you think of for the customer to download that could benefit your business?

    Ok, so you have read the blog and you have probably said to yourself on at least one of the points “my current DVR can do that” but you are missing a huge piece of the puzzle, how it’s implemented and this is much harder to explain, I ask you to think about the above and evolve it based on your own requirements. For example, although the CMS that comes with DVRs may offer some of the functionality but you wouldn't recommend it for a professional monitoring station. You also need to consider where it may lead; if implemented correctly, many of the above could lead to a profound effect on the professional security business, for example:

    Off-site Storage: The ability to interrogate/download/analyse footage without leaving your desk has a massive appeal to others also. The police spend millions if not billions doing this manually, with the right promotion and politicians ear, only “connected” equipment could become the standard or even requirement for certain installations, installed by professional installers.

    Business Tool: The more the client uses the system the more the possibility of using it as a communication tool. E.g. Advertising, call out requests, record keeping, etc.

    Your definition of what a professional DVR may be completely different but the objective is to recognise that the business has changed for professional security companies and that manufacturers have their part to play in facilitating the business model.

    I would sincerely like to hear your opinions………

  6. Its been a while since my last blog.

    My last blog was on direction and position for us as an industry and those involved in it. Nothing has changed imo from that entry.

    Today id like to talk about more basic things. Things we do day to day, regulations we operate under etc.

    On the approved side we have various rules and regulations we must all operate within. If we risk asses a site as needing, or we are requested to design a system that requires a police response then we do.

    Currently if a security system is going to call the police (granted i accept that arc's etc are involved in this process) then it needs to comply with various regulations.

    This includes the current EN 50131 reg in force, it also demands BS 8243 (there are others)

    Using BS8243 as an example this requires we install and configure systems in a certain way. The main reason for this standard is to reduce the number of 'false' alarms we pass to the police regardless of cause. This is for intruder detection as well as personal attack systems (I&HAS). From a security point of view most systems are configured for sequential confirmation. That is 2 or more detectors located off the entry route must activate before a call is passed to the police. This is relatively easy to achieve as long as we design a system with adequate detection. ie 1 sensor per room is rarely sufficient as a single detector activating on a genuine break in will not result in the police being called. Ideally all we need to do is add additional protection to these areas and we have the desired more than 1 detector activating.

    This is harder to achieve safely with regard to panic attack. As it was a user under attack could press a double push panic button safe in the knowledge that this would be passed to the police and assistance was on its way.

    This is changing as we know and we now have confirmation of PA. This requires in its simplest form a different PA button. One you have to press in a certain way, in certain positions to get the desired effect.

    So we have a basic position where to comply and achieve a police calling system you need (as an end user) a company that is inspected by a UKAS accredited inspectorate (currently NSI and SSAIB), you need a system designed to comply with the current legislation that does all it can to reduce or remove false alarms at the expense of possibly missing genuine ones. You need to play the police to activate your URN (ie your premisis to allow the alarm to even be passed to the police). You need to control the number of alarms you generate. If you have 3 false alarms in a rolling 12 month period and the 4th is genuine then the police can refuse to attend. All these alarms from complaint companies are monitored and checked statistically. If the false alarm rate of your provider is higher than the average they will be removed from calling the police. There are many reasons why a company might want to not pass alarms on to the police. Is this really what we are trying to achieve. Are we ignoring what the end users expectation is of an approved system?

    On the flip side there are firms that provide a non approved, non regulated police response. They can use police cars and the word police calling on their marketing. They will pass any call from an alarm onto the police via the 999 system without any URN and using the correct wording will get the police to attend. Does this not make type A systems (ie approved) 2nd class. They are considerably cheaper to install and run. They dont need servicing, they dont need an on call engineer, they dont need to be complaint to any regulations, they dont need a URN or police tax, they dont need etc etc etc.

    Are we loosing sight of what we should be doing and protecting?

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    Recent Entries

    I have a friend of many years who was/is a master trades person.

    Some bad luck for him and he sought a diffrent life, first in Ireland and by chance he is now in Thailand.

    i know he wont mind me blogging his letter here, it has a very strong message about being content.

    Hi Jeff and Ger. HAPPY CHRISTMAS.

    I hope you are well, Thank you for your mail, Sorry for the late reply. As you know we have no internet on the farm, so I typed all this onto "Word" so I could send when I got chance. First let me thank you for that lovely meal. Thanks Jeff for trying to sort out that phone system, even though we couldn't make it work.

    Where do I begin to tell you about my life over here in Thailand??? I’m sorry but this is going to be a long tale.

    I never thought that I would be so busy in my retirement. There are not enough hours in a day to do all that needs to be done. We usually get up around 5-30-6-00 AM as soon as daybreaks, by 8-30 the sun is already too hot for me to do anything outside, how the Thais work all day in the fields amazes me, it would kill me! It always goes dark at 6-30 no matter what month of the year; I do miss the long summer evenings in England.

    Whilst I was back in UKJune/ July, Noy harvested her sugar crop on her 23 Rai (about 11 acres) plot. When you cut the sugar down to ground level, you get a second year’s crop from the same roots for free! But this year when it grew again it was diseased, so Noy had it all ploughed back into the land. So much for our bonus crop!!

    When I came back over we decided to sow rice on the land, rather than just leave it idle,,,,, the land has to work for you, to make you money.

    At the same time we had our 10 Rai plot,,, where I had the pond dug, ploughed again and sowed rice on that as well. We only ever grow rice on that land, as it is divided into paddies that we can flood or drain as required to keep the rice happy.

    We were expecting rain to come very soon after sowing, but it never came! We were lucky because we had the pond to pump water onto the land, many farmers nearby were not so lucky and lost their crops through lack of water.

    We had our pond dug 5 metresdeep, to stop people netting the pond and stealing our fish. Anyway, needless to say when we pumped the water onto our rice and the water level fell. The ******** came in the night and stole most of our big fish. It seems poaching and stealing fish is a national pastime here. Noys dad built a hut on the edge of the pond where he usually sleeps, so he could look after the fish, but he is 86 and has only got one eye, so they were still able to get our fish,,,,,,,, Anyway, when the rain eventually came, it quickly filled the pond again, and the baby fish that were left are now growing again, thankfully,,,,,,, Jumping ahead to now,,,, we have just had the rice cut on that 10 Rai plot, where the pond is. We got just over one and three quarter tons of good quality rice from that crop so Noy is pleased with that. The good news was that as we drained the paddies prior to cutting, we were able to recover about two and a half thousand small fish that had been pumped onto the land and had been growing with the rice,,,, so now the pond looks healthy with thousands of small fish swimming around,,,, now I’m happy, because by next year they will be big enough to eat. Not that I eat them, it’s just I enjoy the sport of trying to catch them with a fishing rod and line.

    Everybody is busy cutting and drying their rice now, so we are just waiting our turn for the rice harvester to find enough time to cut our 23 Rai plot. I don’t think that we will get a large crop from that land as we had to rely on rainfall to water it, as there is no water anywhere near to it. We need to have it cut within the next couple of days or we will lose the rice back into the land. Everything grows VERY quickly here and as soon as crops are ready you have to get them harvested and stored or sold.

    Noy is a good farmer and understands the markets well,,, when to store and when to sell, The market is flooded with rice now as everybody brings their rice in, so the rate is low. We will keep our rice in our rice storage hut for about another 3 months until the price goes up again. Most of the local farmers sell their rice straight away to get money to live on, but if you don’t need to sell straight, you get a much better price for it.

    Soon after we had planted the rice, it was time to harvest the mansapalang (like sweet potato) that we were growing on our 13 Rai plot, just outside the village. This is the land that I am thinking of building a house on, when I eventually sell Bury New Road. It took nearly a week to bring that crop in; I think there was nearly 85 tons, so that was good.

    After it was harvested we sowed a yellow flower on the land, just so we could plough it back into the land for nourishment.

    Last month we had that ploughed over two times, and then waited for our delivery of 22 tons of new sugar cane that we bought from the sugar refinery. We have now had all that sugar planted and already it is starting to show shoots. That land is very good land for growing, so we only ever grow sugar or mansapalang, usually 2 years of sugar then we alternate to one year of mansapalang.

    We have got another 28 Rai of land that is already growing a good crop of mansapalang that we planted early last year, hopefully that will be ready to harvest next Feb – March.

    So I think you can understand that life on the farm is anything but quiet, but I enjoy driving Noys truck over all the farmland, looking after the workers. While Noy looks after the rice crops I am usually able to do a bit of fishing in our pond and enjoy a cool Chang Beer.

    Last year I had an extension built on the side of the house as I wanted a workshop and somewhere to store tools and things. Anyway as soon as it was built, Noy decided that it would make a good hair dressing salon. So I lost my workshop, but we gained a new salon. Noy has now sold the Hairdressing salon that she had in Phimai town centre.

    Now, whenever Noy is not on the land, she opens the hairdressing salon and is quickly busy with customers wanting their hair cut. All the older ladies will only have their hair cut by Noy and will wait weeks on end if we are busy on the farm. Now that we have the new salon more and more of the younger girls are becoming regular customers also.

    Yes, life is good over here. When it’s not too busy we usually manage to get into Phimai, our nearest town, two or three times a week for a meal and a drink with the other expatts that live over here, plenty of good CHEAP restaurants in town, a good steak meal all inc is around £2- £3, Noys meals are about 30 Pence and as she is teetotal it doesn’t cost a fortune. We usually get into Korat, which is a big city, about once a fortnight, to get anything not available locally. There is a big shopping mall, a bit like our Trafford Centre along with a Makro, Tesco Lotus, Big “C” and many other retail parks.

    I’ve been over here 5 months already, and am hoping not to return to UKtill Feb 10th next year. After 3 months over here I had to do a “Visa Run” to get a new visa in my passport for another 90 days (3 months) so we went up to Cambodia for a couple of days. After getting my visa we stayed in a nearby town called Buriram where there are many expatts bars and restaurants.

    My one year visa from UKexpired 2 weeks ago so we had to do another visa run even though my last one hadn’t run out. This time we were busy on the farm, so we didn’t stay over.

    When we have brought our last crop of rice in hopefully in the next few days,,,,,, maybe it will get a bit quieter and we will have time to relax a bit.

    In my front garden we have banana trees growing and two of them have big bunches of bananas that will be ready for eating in about 4 weeks time. We have got about 6 Pappaya trees growing all bearing fruit and a lime tree with 2 limes growing on it. We have about 6 pineapple trees but I’ve no idea when they will bear fruit. Around our pond we have planted about 20 coco nut trees, numerous banana trees and many fruit trees that we never see in England, all will be bearing fruit within a couple of years.

    In EnglandI could barely exist on the small amount of pension that I receive, but over here I can live like a king. I think the weather plays an important part in keeping me healthy,,,,, Within 2 days of being back over here my swollen feet had gone back to normal, I don’t have any aches or pains through arthritis, no problems with my asthma and no problems with my blood pressure because there is no stress here, we don’t have a letter box and we don’t have a postman,,,, so we don’t get any bills!!

    Our mains water is 30 Pence per month and our bottled drinking water about the same. A bottle of gas for cooking costs £4 and lasts about 9 months; our electric bill is about £3 per month. No Heating bills to worry about. £20 fills the truck with gasoline that lasts a week or more depending where we go. Car tax is £12 per year. Car Insurance about £14 per year. There are NO rates or any other taxes to pay No National Insurance. I get 3 months supply of all the medicines that I usually get from Englandfor £20 from our local hospital. No TV licence no Satellite and NO ****IN TAXMAN to worry about.

    So, yes, life is very good here. It’s nice to know that every day is going to be a nice day weather wise, when you put washing on the line it is bone dry within the hour

    Now is our cool season but just looking at our thermometer it’s still 87Fand it’s 10-30 pm at night. During the daytime it is usually around 100F, too hot for me, but it sure beats being cold.

    Obviously there are negatives over here, but the good things always make up for any shortfalls. The standard of driving here is terrible, very few people actually have a driving licence, and those that have a licence have usually paid for it rather than passing a test, as such corruption is a major problem. The police set up check points with the sole purpose of collecting money to make up their wages, the good side is that you can get away with anything if you pay the policeman the equivalent of £2 ,,,,, No ticket no endorsements. Nobody has a clue about road safety, nobody knows that when its dark you need to turn your lights on, I think there must be a contest going, to see how many years they can drive without putting them on ,,,, I’m not joking, it really is scary when you come flying up behind a BIG wagon crawling along with no lights on in pitch black of night because there are few street lights working. The school buses have kids hanging off the sides, usually with 10-15 happily sitting on the roof of the bus SCARY!! The law over here is that the driver of a motorbike is supposed to wear a helmet, but when there are usually 4-5 people on that motorbike and the person on the front is usually a passenger, with the rider being in second place??? Nobody wears a helmet except when they see a checkpoint. At least driving a truck you are more likely to survive than if you were riding a motorbike. In saying that, I ride a motorbike on the farm, and in the village, and feel perfectly safe, though I am VERY wary if I go on any main roads.

    The electrics over here are VERY dangerous nobody has any sort of qualifications. Wires just get twisted together, lives joined to neutrals, in our farm house the live wire is Black at the front of the house, but it is White at the back of the house???

    The one thing I miss over here is decent internet connection. We have no phone lines to our village so we have to rely on a 3G dongle,,,,,,, trouble is we don’t have any 3G network anywhere near, but the don’t tell you that when you’re buying it. The rest of the world is already on 4G, yet Thailand is still deciding which Internet provider shall get the contract for 3G !!! ??? Most of the time we have no signal at all even for a mobile phone, which is not good.

    Ok. Enough for now, my fingers are aching with typing.

    As soon as I find time I will put some pictures together so you will understand what I’m trying to show you about life over here.

    Take Care Love Ray xxx

  7. Single path signaling solutions

    This blog aims to outline the options for single path signaling.

    To avoid continuous repetition of “network polling, alarms, UDL, diagnostics etc this document will refer to these features as “ATS functions”.

    Network polling is the transmission of data between a transmitter located at the protected premises and the alarm receiving centre for the purposes of identifying the loss of an end to end route over the network.

    Alarms are events generated by either pin/channels or SIA events from the security system (intruder or fire).

    UDL refers to Upload/Download of data to and from the security system or transmitter for the purposes of management and maintenance.

    Diagnostics refers to troubleshooting security system, transmitter or network problems remotely over the network.

    Technologies

    There are 5 methods used to provide single path signaling today using standard, non proprietary communications methods.

    Standard PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)

    Dial up (Digi modem)

    Modem data over wireless

    GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications)

    IP over fixed line

    xDSL/fibre/other (Digital Subscriber Line - Asymmetrical, Symmetrical upstream and downsream options)

    IP over wireless

    GPRS/3G/other (General Packet Radio System, 3rd Generation, LTE (Long Term Evolution)

    Billing

    Each technology incurs communications costs (not including ARC monitoring fees). In the security application costs are incurred by network polls, alarm delivery and remote service.

    With certain technologies the cost is paid by the end user to the telecoms service provider. Other technologies are billed via the ARC by the ATS provider.

    Some ATS providers do enable the end user to procure their own SIM for either GSM data or GPRS, however in general:

    Standard PSTN

    End user pays

    Proprietary PSTN

    ATS provider charge via ARC

    Modem data over wireless

    ATS provider charge via ARC

    IP over fixed line

    ATS provider charge via ARC

    IP over wireless

    ATS provider charge via ARC

    Costs

    Because single path signaling is generally only considered for low risk premises the end users expectation is for low cost/low functionality.

    Summary

    PSTN

    Dedicated line provides best functionality/security

    Dedicated lines are expensive

    Calls are expensive

    Security reduced by reducing call frequency

    Security reduced by implementing on shared line

    Test call and power fail should be configured at all times

    GSM data

    Less expensive than PSTN

    More expensive than GPRS and ADSL

    Same dial in security issues as PSTN

    Test call and power fail should be configured at all times

    GPRS data

    Very low cost support for all ATS functions

    More secure than PSTN and GSM (firewalled etc)

    Test call and power fail should be configured at all times

    Remote UDL has increased security

    Remote UDL can operate in internet/private APN modes

    Private APN is more elegant for any time access

    Private APN includes fixed IP address for SIMs

    Costs of APN/fixed IP is close to zero for ATS providers

    xDSL

    As a shared service cost of ATS functions is close to zero

    High polling frequency means anytime UDL possible

    High polling frequency means network reporting time can be reduced to identify power failure/faults more quickly, without undue stress on ARC

    More secure than PSTN and GSM

    Operates in dynamic or fixed IP address modes

    Detail

    PSTN

    PSTN is a point to point service, operating only one application to a dialed destination at any time (or inbound call).

    In the security context the most reliable and secure implementation is to use a dedicated PSTN line. A dedicated PSTN line can efficiently support all ATS functions, though generally at a lower frequency than other proprietary or IP based systems.

    Using a dedicated line ensures that the security service is not interruption by other dial up applications or compromised by “off hook” scenarios (which can also occur undetected during the Open and Set periods).

    However dedicated lines are expensive, prone to disconnection by finance departments because of their low useage profile and the trend in price remains on the increase.

    Because of the cost of PSTN lines and call charges many installers and end users have reduced the number of test calls and alarm traffic sent. This further reduces security and devalues the application.

    The potential trend for these systems, even without the network issues which occur from time to time, is for end users to cancel the services.

    Using shared PSTN lines reduces the line rental costs, but introduces the off hook risks. For installers that want to use remote UDL there is also the issue of the inbound call being answered (by fax or person) or that the line is busy.

    Generally the remote UDL over PSTN is insecure. There are very few measures to restrict a system dialing into a site (such as a firewall). Dial in/dial back for UDL does provide some security, but data is sent by the digi unencrypted and many installers enable dial in/common engineering codes for efficiency/simplicity.

    Modem data over wireless

    Sending ATS functions over GSM data networks removes the cost of a dedicated land line and is significantly cheaper. However GSM data useage is expensive compared to GPRS and xDSL services.

    GSM can be remotely dialed by the UDL package, but the security risks remain the same as PSTN dial up. GSM can be dialed just as PSTN is if you know the telephone number of the SIM. See security issues above for PSTN.

    GPRS

    During the past 8 years GPRS costs have dropped dramatically and it’s functionality has improved. Because GPRS is a “packet” based system which uses shared local access and network resources it is charged on a useage basis i.e the amount of bandwidth you use per month. M2M GPRS is procured on a contract basis and there are many commercial options open to ATS providers including pooled bandwidth, fractional billing, line rental with inclusive bandwidth etc.

    GPRS is suitable for all ATS functions and it has added security and encryption over GSM dial up data. Because the GPRS service uses IP technology to transport data the SIM/service is behind the network provider’s firewall systems.

    If the SIM is not sending data to a server (e.g. a receiver) it is not possible to send data directly to the SIM over GPRS when behind the public internet firewall. For single path ATS systems, if the remote device is polling very infrequently (e.g. every 24 hours) then remote connectivity for UDL is not possible.

    Other methods can be used to make the SIM send data to initiate two way communications, however they add (minor) cost and the UDL package may time out during the process.

    To maintain the security of the GPRS system (when used as a single path system) and allow anytime access for ATS functions, the most elegant solution is to provide the SIM with a Fixed IP address. To achieve this the ATS provider procures a dedicated APN/IPSEC tunnel(s) from the mobile provider. This creates a closed network group for the SIMs, fixed IP addressing etc.

    The cost of APN/IPSEC tunnels has reduced dramatically over the past 3 years making the cost implications to a volume ATS provider negligible/zero.

    xDSL

    Fixed line broadband internet connections are designed for high speed, shared application use. The cost of transmission is effectively zero (when operating on a shared circuit).

    The firewall does restrict unsolicited inbound access, providing a higher level of security than PSTN. This is overcome by ATS providers using network polling as the transport for all ATS functions.

    In the case of xDSL based systems, there is no need for a dedicated APN/IPSEC tunnel from the service provider because the bandwidth used is provided by the end user (at almost zero cost). Therefore the polling frequency on fixed line IP systems can be far higher than GPRS, enabling any time access all the time.

    ARC costs

    Digi modems communicate directly with the ARC into a receiver rack. PSTN/ISDN lines modems/terminal adapters are required and contention is high (we have seen digis contending 100-1 for ARC based resources). (PSTN traffic from ATS providers is generally delivered by a hosted system over IP connections or, in some cases, legacy kilostream services).

    GPRS and fixed line IP services are delivered into the ARC using high speed internet connections. These are more scalable and less contended than the PSTN infrastructure. (Statement holds for hosted or direct connections from ATS providers).

    Pros and cons of each technology

    Four elements effect the choice of single path signaling; frequency of polling, frequency of unconfirmed network faults reported, network maintenance and the affect of loss of power to the ATS communication/communications equipment/line.

    Network polling frequency

    Any single path system is compromised by the fact that an interruption in service cannot be detected quickly without high speed polling. Using dial up PSTN and GSM services, high speed polling can be expensive.

    Network fault reporting

    The downside of high speed polling is that short term network faults can be reported to the operator. Dependent on the technology used polling the network incurs cost.

    Network maintenance

    Every service is affected by network maintenance by the communications service provider, or the end user. In general maintenance outages are very short. Whilst the actual work may take some time, the implementation of the upgrade/work takes a few minutes whilst systems reboot. Signalling standards take care of this with a minimum 3 minute reporting time at Grade 4 and much longer at the lower Grades (3 and 2). The majority of network equipment either local or remote to the premises can be worked open without interrupting operation with the reboot taking less than 3 minutes.

    Power

    A loss of power can also stop a communications service operating.

    Loss of power using a Digi modem or GSM/GPRS system

    PSTN systems which use a copper path include a line voltage, driven by power at the exchange. However, the digi modem will only operate for the battery backup time of the alarm panel, hence the requirement to back up the panel for 24 hours using a battery.

    Once expended the modem will fail, but the line will stay in operation. The same power backup times apply to the operation of a GSM/GPRS modem.

    For systems which monitor power it remains possible to transmit a “Power failure” message to the ARC, but only if this has been configured in the panel or via a channel.

    If this alarm is not configured the ARC will be made aware only when the battery backup of the panel fails and the test call from the modem is not received, if the test call has been configured to be sent.

    Loss of power using fixed line or wireless IP single path systems

    Power loss will result in the loss of broadband and the ability to signal. Because of the fast polling times a fault can be recognized by the receiver quickly. The majority of power failures are short, but installers can choose from Grade 2 (24 hour), Grade 3 (5 hours) and Grade 4 (3 minute) reporting times. Some ATS providers enable a hybrid reporting time of 30 minutes to an hour, which is both logical and statistically proven to be a reasonable time to enable either a single path wireless or fixed line system to recover from the majority of network faults, maintenance or power outage issues. Additional reporting can employed to report a power fail over PSTN in either instance, creating an IP+PSTN or GPRS+PSTN solution.

    The use of VoIP for digi modems

    Many xDSL routers support the connection of an analogue modem. The router will convert the modem analogue signal to packet, but at the receiving end a router will need to convert the data stream back to analogue for receipt by a modem.

    The process is complex and in the security environment can introduce kiss off issues with the alarm panel – which is the very problem many ARCs are attempting to avoid.

    The future

    Fixed line

    Fixed line technologies such as fibre are already available. Changes the users will see are that transmission and download speeds will become faster and more symmetrical. Services will continue to converge applications over a single line at faster speeds of transmission and access giving remote control a continually improved “real time” feel.

    IPv6 introduces the concept of a fixed IP address for every device, this has advantages in terms of reducing the configuration required.

    Firewalls will remain a key element in protecting devices from malicious, unsolicited in bound attack, even when every device has it’s own IP address.

    Wireless

    The major changes to communications will be in wireless. 3G has been available for several years nationally, however the price of 3G hardware has restricted use of this technology in security.

    When 3G hardware costs reduce this will enable a more elegant solution for Imaging and CCTV transmission over wireless because of its increased upstream speed when compared with GPRS.

    LTE frequency auctions start in 2013. Networks will roll out during 2014. Speeds will be very high, but the technology will come with the same price of hardware/power consumption issues at first. This will then decline to be affordable/reliable/efficient in line with other digital technology trends.

    In general the wireless communications solutions will continue to evolve to a point where the airborne traffic is as fast and affordable as the fixed line traffic – eventually delivering a symmetrical service over any path, both operating at the same/very similar speeds.

    Coverage will continue to improve, but wireless will always be prone to signal strength issues due to geographical location, physical construct of the building and installation location within the premises.

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