4 Alarm Communications Practices to Consider

Troy Barnes by Troy Barnes | 01.30.2014

Most alarm companies have already adopted a practice of using Internet, GSM or both on every installation.  How do you decide which is right for your customer?  To make this decision, four things should be considered:  Internet availability, GSM signal availability, level of security, and expected alarm traffic. 

Graph#1-Internet Availability
First, is an Internet connection available and practical?  If you are using a LYNX Touch 5100, the option of Wi-Fi connectivity is available.  For all applications, Internet connectivity is an option if it is possible to get an Ethernet connection from the premise Gateway to the alarm equipment.  Additionally, if using Internet only, battery backup should be provided to the Internet Modem and Gateway device.  An advantage to using an Internet communicator is lower cost of equipment and alarm transmission.  Additionally, when using Honeywell Internet communication products, you have the ability of programming the alarm panels remotely using Compass Downloading software, and the ability for the customer to operate their system remotely and receive notifications using Honeywell Total Connect Remote Services.  Above is a list of Honeywell AlarmNet GSM communication products.

#2-GSM Communications
The second option to consider that has been the most common choice is GSM communications.  It is important to make sure that the customer has adequate GSM Signal availability.  GSM communication is a quick and easy solution to alarm communication.  When using Honeywell 4G GSM communication products, you can program the alarm panels remotely using our Compass Downloading software, and your customers can operate the system remotely and receive notifications using Honeywell Total Connect Remote Services.  Above is a list of Honeywell AlarmNet communication products.

#3-Level of Security
Now we need to consider the level of security the customer needs or is expecting.  Will one path of communication suffice or do they require a backup communication path? In the past, our industry relied on POTS lines as the primary path and only provided Cellular communication as a backup.  Today, we use Internet as a primary and 4G Cellular as a secondary or backup communication path. 

If using the LYNX Touch 5100; install both the L5100-Wi-Fi and the GSMVLP5-4G communicators.  For other applications, use the iGSMV4G; this device provides Internet as a primary path and 4G GSM cellular as a secondary path for communication.  The iGSMV4G constantly monitors the Internet connectivity all the way to our Network Control Center and if a report is necessary during an Internet outage, the device automatically and immediately sends the report using the 4G GSM communication path.  It is important to note that backup power is still required for the Internet Modem and Gateway to have a reliable Internet communications path.

#4-Alarm Traffic
Finally, which should not be overlooked, is the amount of alarm traffic or reporting this system will be doing.  Most systems do not send many reports each month. However, systems which send open and close reports do.  For those with minimal reporting, GSM as a primary communications path will suffice without any extra reporting expense.  When sending reports over GSM, a data cost is incurred and this is built into the monitoring cost of the device.  When choosing a communicator for a high traffic customer, it is best to use Internet or Internet with GSM as a backup.  If Internet is not available and you have a customer’s system that is to send open and close reports, we have an option in programming called “High Usage”.  This option is available for Daily supervised and Unsupervised supervision levels and provides additional data for alarm reporting.  To enable this option for a GSM communicator, access the devices programming using AlarmNet Direct.    If Internet is available, it is a better option because no extra expense is incurred by any amount of Internet traffic.

If you are incurring extra costs because of GSM data overages, speak with your central station and ask them about methods of reducing these overages.  Additionally, you may reach out to your Honeywell Regional Technical Manager who could also work with you to understand your central station practices and how to manage your alarm transmissions.