Wireless is good – but Cellular is better!

Posted by , , at 5:23 pm

So, why all the fuss about cellular monitoring? Here are a couple of reasons:

1) Lots of alarm companies advertise wireless systems – but what they mean is that the various sensors (doors, windows, motions, etc.) “talk” to the alarm control panel without wires. That’s a good start, and most new systems being sold today work this way. But, it’s not the real issue!

2) The main point is that wireless does not necessarily mean cellular, and I think this is the “great hoax” of the alarm industry. Most alarm systems – and we are talking about over 90%, or millions of systems in use today – use your home phone line to notify the central monitoring station of an alarm event. If that connection is severed, then your alarm system is just an expensive noisemaker. That’s right: all the intruder has to do is cut the phone line (or Internet connection, if you use on instead of a phone line), and the police or fire department will never know what has happened at your home.

The scary thing is that most people have no idea this is the case, and most alarm companies don’t tell you. The alarm companies who even offer cellular monitoring just about always charge more for the equipment and more for the monthly, making it a tough pill to swallow. And some of the supposedly “newer” technology companies are 100% Internet based, which is just as vulnerable as a phone line.

So remember, all alarms systems are not created equal: look for 100% wireless and 100% cellular.  As far as I know, there is only one alarm company in the US that sells 100% cellular systems: FrontPoint Security!

Comments (2)

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  1. Alan

    Yes, excellent, excellent post Peter.

    Your main point of wireless communication between in-home sensors and the in-home control panel ** VS. ** cellular communication between that in-home control panel and the central monitoring station is an excellent one that people need to really understand because many alarm companies, as you note, do indeed take full advantage of their ignorance.

    Having said that, and a much less significant point, and more just for clarification, it is my understanding that — ** if done right ** — having the in-home control panel hardwired to sensors can actually be more secure than than wireless sensors.

    However, this can cost substantially more (mainly labor), is intrusive and takes more time to install, holes in walls, etc. And in the end, for most of us, it would be way overkill for very little, perhaps no benefit, with a lot greater risk of something going wrong (more chance for installation error / misconfiguration / sub-optimal configuration, etc… which would negate any theoretical tiny technical advantage in many cases).

    Target value has to be considered… and appropriate solutions conceptualized with that in mind. I would hazard a guess your systems would be sufficient for 98% of homeowners out there. As you note, for probably 90% of the market, most are paying a few dollars less per month to $10-20 dollars more for 50 year old telephone monitoring solutions. Also as you note, nearly equally as bad, for the same line cut vulnerability, are these supposedly new-age Internet-based monitoring.

    So, essentially agree with you 95% on a proportionally weighted basis, and I know you were trying to simplify to the salient points. BUT… you’re the expert, what do you think on this?

    Anyway, long time customer of three years, and still love my system. I’m really excited you’ve started this blog and are allowing comments too. Maybe you guys will start a podcast too, and interview different guests from the police dept, security industry, etc. The good thing about podcasts is it feels a little bit more personal (the voices) BUT MAINLY I can still take in content when my hands are busy but my mind isn’t (yeahhhh… let’s not go there).

  2. Alan

    Yes, excellent, excellent post Peter.

    Your main point of wireless communication between in-home sensors and the in-home control panel ** VS. ** cellular communication between that in-home control panel and the central monitoring station is an excellent one that people need to really understand because many alarm companies, as you note, do indeed take full advantage of their ignorance.

    Having said that, and a much less significant point, and more just for clarification, it is my understanding that — ** if done right ** — having the in-home control panel hardwired to sensors can actually be more secure than than wireless sensors.

    However, this can cost substantially more (mainly labor), is intrusive and takes more time to install, holes in walls, etc. And in the end, for most of us, it would be way overkill for very little, perhaps no benefit, with a lot greater risk of something going wrong (more chance for installation error / misconfiguration / sub-optimal configuration, etc… which would negate any theoretical tiny technical advantage in many cases).

    Target value has to be considered… and appropriate solutions conceptualized with that in mind. I would hazard a guess your systems would be sufficient for 98% of homeowners out there. As you note, for probably 90% of the market, most are paying a few dollars less per month to $10-20 dollars more for 50 year old telephone monitoring solutions. Also as you note, nearly equally as bad, for the same line cut vulnerability, are these supposedly new-age Internet-based monitoring.

    So, essentially agree with you 95% on a proportionally weighted basis, and I know you were trying to simplify to the salient points. BUT… you’re the expert, what do you think on this?

    Anyway, long time customer of three years, and still love my system. I’m really excited you’ve started this blog and are allowing comments too. Maybe you guys will start a podcast too, and interview different guests from the police dept, security industry, etc. The good thing about podcasts is it feels a little bit more personal (the voices) BUT MAINLY I can still take in content when my hands are busy but my mind isn’t (yeahhhh… let’s not go there).