GCS knows how to network

Calif. company building an AES network to cover hundreds of square miles
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

HAYWARD, Calif.—Grand Central Station, a wholesale monitoring company based here, has big plans for its UL-approved, private, radio mesh network that it started building about two years ago.

“We’re the only monitoring facility in northern California that has put a serious effort into building a large, viable, usable network and our plan is to have one network that covers all of northern California,” Keith Buerke, GCS’ operations manager, told Security Systems News about the company’s AES IntelliNet mesh radio network.

“Right now,” he said, “it’s in the general five-county San Francisco Bay area and we are in the process of developing a network in Sacramento and then eventually those two will connect together.”

He predicted that by the end of 2012, “we’ll have pretty complete coverage between the Bay area and Sacramento, most of central and northern California.”

He said the plan also is to eventually have the network extend beyond those areas to include places like Monterey, Salinas and possibly Stockton and Fresno. “If we can get enough radios out there, we can have a network that can cover hundreds of square miles,” Buerke said.

Founded more than 20 years ago, GCS serves about 40,000 customers and some 175 dealers west of the Mississippi, Buerke said. GCS is the monitoring branch of All-Guard Alarm Systems, a company that installs alarm systems for residential and commercial clients.

GCS began developing its AES network about two years ago for several reasons, he said.

One is being able to offer clients what the company considers the “most secure, fastest, and most reliable way to monitor commercial fire accounts.”

The network, Buerke said, allows clients to eliminate the two dedicated phone lines traditionally required for fire systems. “It’s saving the end user from $50 to $80 a month, depending on the application,” he said.

But he said the major reason the company invested in its own network was looking ahead to the future of monitoring.

“The phone lines are becoming unreliable. That’s the primary reason we spent the money to install AES because of the analog phone network and the troubles we’re seeing now and obviously are going to see more of in the future,” Buerke said. “We figure in a couple of years there will be no analog phone lines left and unfortunately, alarm systems don’t always communicate that well over Internet-type based phone systems like voice-over-IP systems. So there had to be another solution to the problem.”