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Doubling residential penetration: Pie in the sky or an eventuality?

Readers deliver wide range of opinions in SSN News Poll
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12/12/2012

YARMOUTH, Maine—Forty percent residential penetration.

ADT CEO Naren Gursahaney said recently that it’s not a “moonshot,” and Honeywell Security Products President Scott Harkins said his company shared the expectation that it could happen. But given that the rate has hovered at 20 percent for years, is it realistic to believe it can be doubled? Or is that just optimism from the corner office?

2G sun starting to set in Arizona

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Looking for signs of the 2G sunset? Don’t blink.

That was the message today from Telguard’s Shawn Welsh, who notified CSAA members via the group’s ACCENT email service that AT&T has begun to pull the shade on Arizona’s Pinal and Gila counties.

“For those of you with cellular customers in Arizona, AT&T has announced that there will be no roaming network available to 2G GSM/GPRS-only cellular devices using [the company’s] 410 SIMs—they are often yellow in color—in Pinal and Gila counties starting on Nov. 1, 2012,” Welsh wrote.

If you struggle to keep pace with the calendar—and I am among you—that means next Thursday.

Welsh said he and his counterparts at other cellular equipment companies made a promise at the CSAA’s annual meeting, held Oct. 12-17 in Hawaii, to keep the industry informed about pockets of lost 2G coverage “as soon as we were notified by our carrier partners.”

“Having just returned this week, this one is beating the official CSAA process,” he wrote.

Welsh advised anyone with customers in the two counties to contact their cellular manufacturer for official confirmation from AT&T and a coverage map to determine if their units are affected.

“Only your cellular device manufacturer (or waiting until next Thursday—not recommended) can advise you of your potential loss of service,” he said.

Welsh said Telguard customers should not notice a change “as we do not use 410 SIMs in our [legacy] 2G or 3G devices.” For those affected by the AT&T announcement, “you’ll need to roll trucks next week and replace the units with a device operating on a 3G/4G network,” he said.
 

Readers see reality of 'sunset' after AT&T sets 2G deadline

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10/16/2012

YARMOUTH, Maine—AT&T’s 2G “sunset” announcement in August didn’t surprise many people in the alarm industry: Only 9 percent had doubted it was imminent, according to a recent SSN News Poll. But despite that perspective, a majority of respondents said they had not yet begun upgrade their cellular equipment to 3G or 4G.

ESA backs Michigan Alarm Association

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10/04/2012

IRVING, Texas—The Electronic Security Association has thrown strong support behind the Burglar and Fire Alarm Association of Michigan by opposing legislation that would potentially facilitate the entry of telecommunications companies into the state’s electronic security

ADT set to 'go it alone'

CEO of The ADT Corp. squelches rumors new entity will be takeover target
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09/18/2012

BOCA RATON, Fla.—Tyco International shareholders voted Monday to approve splitting Tyco into three separate companies—one of them ADT, another a commercial fire and security business, and the third a flow control unit. ADT officials say they’re eager to see ADT become a stand-alone company, providing security and interactive services to residences and small businesses and focused on innovation and growth.

AT&T’s 2G shutdown in Oakland false alarm for industry

Frequency blackout didn’t affect alarm companies, CAA says
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09/05/2012

OAKLAND, Calif.—AT&T’s move to partially disable its 2G service here at the end of August got the attention of California Alarm Association members, but the frequency blackout did not affect operations in the field, according to CAA Executive Director Jerry Lenander.

Attention shoppers! AT&T goes retail with its new security/home automation services

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

I reported in May that AT&T was entering the security space with summer trials in Dallas and in Atlanta of its home security/home automation services called Digital Life. The telecom also spoke then of its plans to transform that space through such innovations as letting customers try out its new Digital Life offering in its 2,000-plus retail stores around the country.

Now, the first demos of Digital Life are about to begin in AT&T’s first flagship retail store on Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile, the company announced today.

The 10,000-square foot store will open this Saturday, Sept. 1. AT&T said that among the products and services “also found at AT&T’s more than 2,300 retail stores nationwide, the Michigan Avenue store offers customers a glimpse of the future, including AT&T’s first retail demos of the new AT&T Digital Life home security and automation services and of a connected car that shows how wireless technology can aid driving. … With more than 100 digital screens throughout the space, every aspect of the store is designed to educate customers about future wireless technologies and services.”

According to the company, the demos will be in the “Family Life” area of the store. “Customers can see how the services will enable them to adjust the temperature, raise and lower a window shade, and control their home using AT&T wireless devices,” the company said.

“Our Michigan Avenue store is where customers can immerse themselves in everything AT&T is about and truly explore the technology we have to offer,” said Paul Roth, president of AT&T retail sales and service, in a prepared statement. “AT&T is about delivering innovation that makes a difference in our customers’ daily lives. All of that will be ready for customers to experience at our flagship store.”

AT&T: 2017 end of the line for 2G

Cell carrier’s ‘sunset’ for GSM will force upgrade to 3G and 4G radios
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08/15/2012

YARMOUTH, Maine—AT&T will phase out its 2G networks by 2017, setting a long-anticipated timeline for the “sunset” of the technology and giving the alarm industry a target date to upgrade cellular equipment.

3G vs. 4G: AT&T’s ‘sunset’ fuels debate

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

While AT&T has finally set a date and ended the discussion over when it will push 2G into the sunset, the points of contention grow sharper over 3G versus 4G and the merits of each for cellular alarm communication.

Boiling down the argument to its simplest terms, this much is clear: Technology touted as 4G is faster and more expensive. But is that extra speed worth the money, and more importantly for alarm dealers, will it contribute to longevity in the field? And what is “real” 4G anyway?

On Monday, I talked with two industry experts who couldn’t be further apart on the issue: Gordon Hope, general manager of AlarmNet at Honeywell, and Shawn Welsh, vice president of marketing and business development for Telguard. Both made what seemed to be valid arguments, although I confess I’m not qualified to comment on the technical merits of each. What I can do is define HSPA (High Speed Packet Access), HSPA+ (evolved HSPA), and LTE (Long Term Evolution), and offer a bit of what each man had to say:

Hope: “I don’t know whether it’s accidental or intentional, but it seems like our industry is mixing 3G and 4G together in one sentence. In reality, there’s clearly a difference—the carriers delineate it. HSPA+ and LTE from AT&T’s perspective are legitimate 4G technologies, and everything else isn’t.”

Welsh: “At a recent webinar, AT&T and Qualcomm both basically reiterated this statement: 4G is the same as 3G, it just costs more. To get down to the letter version of that, HSPA+ is the same thing as HSPA as it relates to longevity, it’s just that HSPA+ costs more.”

Hope: “We believe the best thing to do is to move up and provide a 4G radio, not stopping at 3G. HSPA+ is a 4G technology … it’s just plain faster. In AT&T’s announcement [about 2G], they even made statements that a third of their postpaid subscriber base is already using 4G technology, not 3G. That speaks to the fact that if you’re not thinking about 4G, you’re probably going to leave yourself shortchanged if you stopped at 3G network capability in the radio module you chose. We went through the additional expense to include HSPA+ 4G technology in our radio. We believe it’s going to directly translate into longevity on the wall.”

Welsh: “There’s a thought that 4G is somehow better than 3G and that somehow it will be around longer, because certainly each generation will be around longer than the previous generation. In this case it’s a misnomer, because 4G as it relates to HSPA+ is really a marketing trick, unfortunately. … What happened was that AT&T and Verizon both went out and bought up spectrum in order to deploy real 4G called LTE. And 4G LTE got a certain level of throughput—it was really fast. Well, T-Mobile did not get spectrum, so they were stuck having to advertise 3G when their major competitors were going to start advertising true 4G LTE. So they simply did what a marketing organization might do. They just said, ‘Hey, you know what? This new 3G HSPA+ is so fast it goes just as fast as that LTE they’re going to deploy, so you know what we’re going to do? Let’s just call ourselves 4G. All that really matters is the speed anyway.’ So overnight they rebranded themselves as 4G in order to compete with the marketing term of 4G LTE. And literally that’s what happened. AT&T was forced to start calling their HSPA+ network— which was really just a 3G network—a 4G network in order to compete with the marketing spin T-Mobile was putting on things. And that’s how we got 4G as it relates to HSPA+.”

Hope went on to say that while speed traditionally hasn’t been important to the alarm industry, it will play a bigger role in attracting future generations of consumers who will be loading their tablets and smartphones with security applications and a whole lot more. Welsh reiterated that longevity will remain the top priority for alarm dealers, and “from a cost standpoint, HSPA+ is a more expensive solution for the exact same longevity.”

For the record, the International Telecommunication Union states on its website that the only “true 4G technologies” are LTE Advanced and WirelessMAN Advanced, neither of which has been deployed on a large scale. The ITU goes on to say, however, that the term 4G may also be applied “to the forerunners of these technologies, LTE and WiMax, and to other evolved 3G technologies providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third-generation systems now deployed.”

That sounds like a gray area open to commercial and consumer interpretation, but there's no arguing this point: Alarm dealers with radios on AT&T’s 2G networks will have to upgrade by 2017 or they’ll be left in the dark. The fadeout due to spectrum harvesting will accelerate before then, so sooner is probably better than later. Then it's just a question of sorting out the Gs.

Sizing up the competition

Go small for better service and big for better pricing? It’s not always that easy when comparing central stations
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08/07/2012

“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
That pearl of wisdom from baseball legend Satchel Paige could very well be applied to the world of wholesale alarm monitoring. The competition is fierce and getting fiercer, raising the stakes for central stations of all sizes. Dissatisfaction over real or perceived problems can prompt a dealer to jump ship, costing a company a chunk of RMR and maybe even a bit of its reputation.

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