Searching the Horizon

Searching the Horizon

Dealers, integrators should address change of 2G network

As the time nears on the shutdown of the second-generation, or 2G, wireless network, now is the time for security dealers and integrators to not only start planning for this massive migration but also begin searching for opportunities to make this change easier for themselves as well as their clients. The 2G shutdown isn’t occurring all at once and has just started appearing sporadically across service areas; however, instead of waiting until January 1, 2017 to address this change, as by this day, 2G will be completely harvested out, security integrators and dealers should be prepared.

The ending of 2G has been met with mixed emotions, with some referring to it as “the death of 2G,” but instead of viewing this migration as negative, view it as a positive way to enhance services for your clients by offering new technology that enhances their security.

The Setting Sun

As the story goes, AT&T and Verizon have announced plans to discontinue 2G service, naming the last day as Dec. 31, 2016. This means that those with older security system models will need to update or replace their systems to be compliant with 3G and 4G requirements so as not to lose their security. This phase out and eventual harvesting of 2G comes as a response in part to the skyrocketing use of smartphones as well as 3G and 4G being faster, more reliable and offering higher-quality connections, pushing 2G, which was developed post analog, to be considered outdated.

“By cell carriers shutting down their 2G, or discontinuing their 2nd Generation networks, telephone carriers can dramatically increase data capacity and better serve the needs of their lucrative smartphone and smart device and tablet customers,” said Judy Jones-Shand, the vice president of marketing at NAPCO Technologies Inc.

Currently, the majority of home security system technologies’ radios use a 2G network, but with this discontinuation occurring in about 2 years, most systems will have to be replaced or upgraded to help extend the operations that they perform today. So, now is the security dealer/integrator’s chance to be the hero and come to the rescue by educating their clients, letting them know what 2G means to them: less reliable connections and slower speeds for 2G network-enabled devices, in addition to the enhancements 3G and 4G provides for their safety and security.

“3G/4G network radios ensure uninterrupted alarm service, so consumers will continue to enjoy the peace-of-mind they pay dealers for, like knowing in an emergency their alarm system will send a report and get through to the appropriate authorities to get help,” Jones-Shand said. Those looking to buy a new security system should not purchase a system that relies on a 2G network, instead opting for one that runs on 3G and 4G to ensure longer life of the system. This means that you, the security dealer and integrator, must be able to offer new clients advanced technology and for established clients, technology that will enable you to easily upgrade their system. “Proactive security dealers who want to safeguard their customers and their accounts from disruption are working now to transition them over to the newer cellular networks, which requires a change of cellular alarm communicator,” said Jones.

Time to Harvest

Since now is the time to react to the 2G sunset, the following steps offer a guide to help dealers and integrators get on track:

  1. Create an action plan. The last thing security dealers and integrators will want to deal with is a barrage of customers demanding an upgrade at the last minute. Your time is valuable, so plan accordingly. Focus on extreme customer service to new and existing clients to help prevent unsatisfied customers, who often express their dissatisfaction to others, which could lead to ruining your reputation as a knowledgeable dealer/integrator.
  2. No more 2G installations. From this day forward, do not install security systems that operate solely on 2G networking. This is setting your customers up for failure as in the near future, they would be forced to upgrade. Talk about lack of customer service and upset customers!
  3. Determine how many customers will need an upgrade. Assess your customer base to determine who needs an upgrade. This will help you schedule your time effectively and efficiently. 3. Educate the customer. Consider sending out direct mail or calling customers who are affected. Let them know that 3G airtime is in fact less expensive than 2G-based solutions so less is needed to accomplish the same set of tasks. Make sure customers know not to wait until the last minute to upgrade as 2G network providers are progressively working to free up the spectrum before the deadline date, which could force some territories to sunset even sooner than 2017.
  4. Determine the best technology from the best manufacturer for your business. In other words, do your homework so that you can offer your customers “the best” during their upgrade. A number of manufacturers within the security industry have already responded to the rise of 3G and 4G by creating products and solutions to help integrators and dealers achieve success with their new and established customer base. As we all know, security is just too important to risk.

Shedding New Light: A Rising Sun

Touted as an “ideal 2G sunset solution,” StarLink3 Radio by NAPCO future-proofs alarm systems by taking the place of or backing-up failed phone lines to communicate alarm system signals to an alarm monitoring station, ensuring that authorities are dispatched quickly and effectively at times of emergency. StarLink3 transmits the security system’s high-priority signals wirelessly and/or digitally. It can also work on any alarm system affordably and reliably as it has been field-proven to function virtually anywhere in the United States, reporting to any central station.

With a touch of innovation in giving people what they have come to expect, NAPCO has configured an app that works directly with StarLink3. Users can arm and disarm any panel brand with keyswitch input via the app as well as receive email or text message updates.

As far as installation is concerned, simply enter a radio ID and the Dialer Capture feature does the rest so dealers and integrators don’t have to worry about certain programming formats or entering phone numbers or account numbers. This feature also captures any panel’s existing central station phone number, allowing rerouting to another central station without going directly to the panel.

“Dealers tell us it’s [Starlink3 Radio] the easiest to use, install and activate,” said Jones.

What’s more, NAPCO is offering an incentive program to all dealers and integrators to help them safeguard their accounts. Dealers purchase a Star- Link 3G or 4G Radio for $99.95 and then register and activate the new radio. Remove the old radio and send its 2G SIM card to NAPCO. In turn, NAPCO will credit the dealer’s account with $50. This makes the net cost under $50 for dealers, with a limited subscriber service of $5.95 per month.

“This is almost certainly the least expensive solution to protect dealers’ accounts on the market, and there’s no limit on the radios traded-up either,” Jones-Shand said.

In addition, Napco has more StarLink models in the works.

“We have new CDMA models for Verizon networks and red, fire-compliant cellular models, too,” said Jones.

Jones has seen dealers have taken on a couple of strategies to keep their accounts during this transition. Some offer the StarLink radio for free with a modest installation charge while others offer a discounted upgrade cost and a free App for consumers with smartphones. This provides remote control of their security systems.

While it seems that all good things must come to an end, it’s the ending of “good” things that lays the path to “greater” things.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .


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