Throughout 2016, we bade one tearful farewell after another to famous figures, household names, and familiar faces. Considering how popular it was at one time, it’s surprising more people didn’t mourn the passing of one faithful friend we had long invited into our homes, cars, and even workplaces. Though it had many names around the world, in North America we best knew our friend simply as “2G.”
On December 31, 2016, the last elements of the AT&T 2G network were laid to rest. The last transmitter went dark, and the parts of the radio spectrum it previously inhabited were re-allocated to its children, 3G and 4G. The nation might have observed a moment of silence had most mobile phone users even noticed. Rest in peace, old AT&T 2G network.
Now, we in the alarm industry need to pick up the pieces and move on with our lives. But we can learn from this moment, too. We can use the passing of 2G to achieve a better future after making better design decisions for our systems.
Building on Shifting Sands
Alarm systems using 2G for central-office notification were always in harm’s way. Cell standards change rapidly. The analog 1G network was sunset in 2008. 2G lasted until 2017. If we can claim to learn anything from history, we know 3G will be next. It’s only a matter of time.
With each evolution of cell technology, speeds and capabilities grow, and vast numbers of older devices are made obsolete in a moment. The sunset of the AT&T 2G network standard impacted the alarm industry especially hard. Many installations relied on 2G cellular for primary notification. Since the sunset, a good number have been left to landlines for notification.
The sunset of 2G represents a great opportunity. This is a chance to upgrade alarm systems to use technology that won’t be affected by changes to cellphone technologies, and won’t leave systems subject to a fierce rate of change. It’s an opportunity to streamline and improve.
The loss of 2G is a chance to rebuild on something more stable than sand.
(More Than) Just a G Thing
Upgrading to 4G would seem a wise step. The standard we call 4G is less than 10 years old, and has achieved coverage of over 80% of America. It’s fast and stable. However, there’s more to the 4G story than just an incremented number. 4G isn’t quite what we think it is.
The standard we often call “4G” is also known as LTE. The “4G” moniker was applied to LTE only reluctantly by the sanctioning group that governs cell network standards. The group resisted because LTE is not a true 4G network. After a series of technical arguments and machinations far beyond the scope of this article, the certifying body admitted the true 4G standard – the one that allowed up to gigabit-levels of throughput — wasn’t ready for prime time. The LTE standard was implemented in place of true 4G by vendors like Verizon and AT&T. LTE’s maximum theoretical download speeds of “only” 100 megabits/second would just have to do.
The rest is history. Many millions of consumers enjoy high-speed 4G-LTE connections throughout the day, and in every corner of the country. However, the lurking threat remains: Finally implementing the “real” 4G standard would make all existing LTE equipment as obsolete as 3G – or even 2G – is today. The cell industry landscape is changing constantly.
As always, you can bet on one thing to stay constant: Change.
Back to the Future with IP
There’s an alternative that won’t be made obsolete following any change to cellphone standards. This is IP networking.
IP networks have become almost universal in our businesses and institutions. IP enables credit card verifications, sales polling, timesheet tracking, perimeter access, inventory operations, and even surveillance in millions of locations throughout the country. It makes sense to leverage this asset for yet another critical business function: The alarm system.
IP is proven technology. It has been around nearly 50 years. Most of the IP network devices which have ever been manufactured can still be used on the networks of today. IP is a standard with very long legs and almost infinite adaptability and reach.
IpDatatel offers notification devices that combine 4G cellphone transceivers with both wired and wireless IP connectivity. Using IP as the primary monitoring method only makes sense. IP not only offers a 1500% faster connection time than dial-up but also eliminates the 18% failure rate of analog alarm transmissions. What’s more: IP connectivity is always-on, thus allowing systems to be managed and updated remotely, without an expensive truck-roll.
The Best of Both Worlds
Contact ipDatatel for more information on how your systems can benefit from IP connectivity. Thanks to the passing of 2G, you now have an opportunity to future-proof your systems while achieving an even greater level of service and profitability. In this moment of passing, we must be strong. Truthfully, the AT&T 2G network would want it that way.