Uplink, DMP offering 4G alarm communicators

Companies say upgrade means greater longevity for equipment in the field
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Friday, April 20, 2012

LAS VEGAS—While asserting that 2G technology is still far from its predicted “sunset,” Uplink and DMP are both rolling out 4G cellular communicators to give alarm dealers the option of upgrading to accommodate new features and to extend the time between equipment swaps.

Atlanta-based Uplink, a provider of wireless alarm communication products, and Springfield, Mo.-based DMP, a security and fire alarm product manufacturer, introduced their 4G communicators in March at ISC West, though neither product line is scheduled for widespread distribution until summer. Both companies said they will continue to sell their current 2G lines as 4G edges into the marketplace.

Mike Boyle, general manager of Uplink, said the company is introducing 4G devices to ensure that customers have access to the latest communications technology and to prepare them for developments in the future.

“We believe 2G still has legs, but we believe that 4G has a place immediately in the marketplace, particularly in very heavy data-use applications like video,” he told Security Systems News. “We think that 2G and 4G will remain very compatible together for the next three or four years.”

Mark Hillenburg, executive director of marketing for DMP, said 2G will be viable “for a good long time.” But he also said there was a lot of discussion and uncertainty in the industry about the time frame, and the company was addressing that by going to 4G. DMP also will be offering 3G/4G communicators for AT&T and T-Mobile.

“In the big picture, when an alarm company installs a system, it wants that system to work for seven or 10 years without going back and revisiting the technology,” he said. “That’s probably on the outside of how long 2G is going to be around. As the technology evolves and [4G] modules become available at a price point that makes sense, then obviously we’re going to stay at the forefront of bringing that technology to bear.”

While the talk surrounding 4G often focuses on its high speed, Hillenburg said that wasn’t a factor for the alarm industry.

“There’s really no advantage to the additional bandwidth,” he said. “It’s important for your iPad or smartphone, but for the alarm company it doesn’t make any difference. It’s really just the longevity of the anticipated technology that matters.”

Hillenburg said DMP’s 4G communicators will cost more than its 2G products, but he said 4G will come down in price as it gains a bigger market share. Boyle said that also would be the case at Uplink.

“We are going to continue to sell 2G for quite a while,” Boyle said. “We think it has the capability of offering our dealers a price leverage point they can use with their customers. We also have a lifetime guarantee program for those dealers so that if at any time the data networks do change over [to 4G], we’ll provide a new equivalent product.”

Both companies said their 4G devices are “backwards compatible” with existing alarm panels. DMP’s communicators are designed for use with DMP panels; Uplink’s connect with almost all panels, according to a company statement.

Boyle said Uplink would begin shipping its 4G products in limited quantities in May. Both companies expect widespread availability of their new communicators in mid- to late summer.