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Critical Data, Wireless And Radio Networks


jimcarter

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I recently read that the rise in mobile connections is growing at a much faster rate than landlines. It was suggested that mobile comms have been proven as a replacement for a landline connectivity and this trend would continue. I think this is a huge generalisation.

Let me take a typical household. There are 5 mobile devices in my home and one Broadband circuit. I would suggest that my families’ use of the available networks is fairly typical in that when at home (or at any opportunity), they automatically connect their mobile device to the Broadband circuit.

Why?

The broadband is faster and more reliable than the radio path, and they do not begin to rack up the data useage on their SIM. We are “naturally” using the reliable fixed line path by default and the radio as the “backup” when we cannot connect to Broadband.

Familiar?

Yes; a vast number of us with Broadband at home do just that, and with the rise of wireless access points in public places, getting connected to Broadband at the earliest oppertunity is (dramatically) on the increase. In business, from SME's to large corporates the trends in usage are the same Wired or wireless connectivity to the LAN and a Broadband delivery to the office for their critical data applications, with mobile devices used primarily for voice but capable of data backup connectivity when needed away from the office and wireless LAN connectivity. (at WebWayOne we have 2 Broadband lines and approx 25 mobiles)

Alarm transmission is critical data and therefore a predictable and reliable network is desirable. If there is a fixed line available it should be utilised for alarm transmission. PSTN is still available but it is expensive (I was quoted 26p just to set up a call recently) and increasingly the older modems are exhibiting intermittent faults due to the changes to the core network.

Broadband has become the natural successor to PSTN for data transmission across the globe and in all manner of applications and therefore if it is available it should be the default alarm transmission path.

Radio is a perfect back-up for Broadband and partner for PSTN. It is a truly diverse network but it is a more unpredictable network over the last mile (from the gsm module to the base station). The radio networks are evolving and getting better all the time but the number of mobile devices in the field puts massive pressure on the radio network from a contention perspective. 2G as a network technology will come under pressure from the consumer’s appetite for 3G & 4G data and so will become more suited to non critical data applications. 3G & 4G is already becoming the norm for critical data backup and a solution that is capable of utilising any provider and any technology

Many used to (and still try to) suggest that an IP based network is hampered by IT departments taking down the network out of hours to carry out maintenance. The same argument can be applied to radio (or any network for that matter). As the radio network evolves to 3G & 4G the operators perform maintenance and upgrades to their systems resulting in loss of service for the duration.

When do they do this?

At night, when the vast majority of us are tucked in bed and a time when property is most at risk.

The unpredictability of the radio last mile means that 2G radio as a monitored alarm transmission network is not best suited to the shorter reporting times associated with high security installations, but can lend itself to the lower grades when it is used in isolation. 3G on the other hand has far better error correction and building penetration that lends itself to more stringent monitoring and data transmission. However, because we are looking at critical alarm data, radio only installations are best suited where access to a fixed line, predictable network is not available.

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