Important update to the VISTA-21iP - VISTA-GSM4G only compatible with new VISTA-21iP control panels.

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We have already talked about the phase out of AT&T's 2G cellular network, but if you haven't read our previous article about the new GSMX4G and GSMV4G cellular alarm communicators, then you may not know that all existing AlarmNet cellular alarm communicators will become obsolete by the end of 2016.

Here at Alarm Grid, we urge everyone looking for a new cellular alarm communicator to only invest in 4G capable communicators. AT&T has formally announced that they will have completely dropped support of the 2G cellular network by the end of 2016. As cellular data use increases, AT&T has to find ways to add new throughput to their most advanced networks. One easy way to expand that throughput is to cannibalize their older and slower 2G network. As it is extremely rare to find a cellular phone in use today that still uses the 2G network, AT&T has no problems sacrificing the older 2G network to make the newer 4G network bigger and faster. Unfortunately, the alarm industry will be affected by the discontinuation of the 2G network as nearly all cellular alarm communicators in existence today use the 2G network. Since the difference in speed between the 2G and the 3G or 4G network wasn't needed when transmitting alarm signals, cellular alarm manufacturers never bothered to upgrade their communicators to support the faster networks. Now however, all alarm companies must act and act quickly. While the end of 2016 is the formal end of the 2G cellular network, certain areas of the country will lost 2G support well before 2016.

For most people, upgrading to the newer cellular network will be as simple as swapping their existing communicator to a newer communicator that has 3G and 4G support. Unfortunately, for everyone that invested in Honeywell's VISTA-21iP alarm control panel, the change to 4G cellular alarm communications won't be so easy. The VISTA-21iP is a great security system because it has a built-in internet alarm communicator.

While internet alarm monitoring is fast and inexpensive, it is not as reliable or secure as cellular alarm communications. Therefore, the VISTA-GSM was available as a snap-on module to the VISTA-21iP to provide an integrated back up cellular communication path. For some reason, Honeywell's engineers did not design the new VISTA-GSM4G to be backwards compatible with existing VISTA-21iP security systems. Therefore, all people that have dual path alarm monitoring using a VISTA-21iP and the VISTA-GSM cellular communicator will have to replace both their VISTA-GSM communicator AND their VISTA-21iP alarm control panel if they want a system that is supported by the 3G/4G cellular network.


We are fully aware of the burden this will place on people looking to upgrade to the future of cellular communications and we will do everything we can to help those people that are left having to replace their system and their communicator. If you have a VISTA-21iP and you are wondering if it is compatible with the VISTA-GSM4G cellular add on, you will have to look at your VISTA-21iP circuit board. If there is a sticker that says "SUPPORTS VISTA-GSM/4G" then it is compatible. Without that sticker, your system will not accept a new VISTA-GSM4G. We are not sure of the exact date that Honeywell began manufacturing the new VISTA-21iP panels, and the model and revision number are the same, but we do know that it was sometime in November. Chances are, unless you got your VISTA-21iP from a reputable source in the past month or so, your system will not support the 4G cellular communicator.

Of course, here at Alarm Grid, we only ship brand new VISTA-21iP panels that have the sticker and do support the VISTA-GSM4G. If you have questions about upgrading your VISTA-21iP, please call us today.

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Comments


I'm surprised to hear tech support tell you that. As far as we know, unless it has the 3G compatible sticker, it won't support the VISTA-GSM4G. Perhaps they said that knowing that there weren't many 3.13 versions that weren't 3G compatible?
I agree, honeywell completely screwed up! i am another HW 21ip user with about 200 21ip/vista gsm and have been screwed. the radio i understand but to have to change the panel, not cool. time & expense is unforgiving on this one. I have spoken to HW Support and they assured me that all V21ip panels revision 3.13 or newer will work with vistagsm4g, and only need to upgrade the radio.
Hi Chris, Again, I think that Honeywell could have done a better job of engineering the 21iP so that the panels that only supported the older VISTA-GSM could also support the newer VISTA-GSM4G. However, both of your upgrade needs (Total Connect and 3G/4G communicators) are instances of new technology rendering old technology obsolete. Your original 21iP panel that didn't do Total Connect 2.0 had to be upgraded because the way they made Total Connect 2.0 is completely different than how Total Connect 1.0 works. When they made the panel that does 1.0, they had no idea how 2.0 would work as it hadn't been developed yet. I'm sure you would agree that the change from 1.0 to 2.0 was quite substantial and offers a much better interface. You could still argue that a firmware update would have been nice but obviously the technology changed so much that a hardware change was the only option. Just to clarify, the revision of the panel did change so there is a clear way to tell (the PROM chip) if a 21iP supports Total Connect 2.0 or not. Also, you mentioned it would have been nice if they had made the 3G/4G communicators three years ago when you got your newer Total Connect 2.0 ready panel. At that time, no one knew that AT&T was going to be dropping the 2G cellular network and for alarm transmissions, there was certainly no need to manufacture a more advanced 3G/4G unit as those kinds of speeds simply aren't needed. Once the network that the systems use was changed by AT&T, Honeywell responded and made the VISTA-GSM4G. I don't know the details about why the VISTA-GSM4G isn't supported by the old panels but I am quite sure it wasn't just to make everyone have to buy a new system. It was a big problem for their sales and support team once it was found out that the new 4G communicator was engineered in a way that prevented it from being used with the older systems. Either way, I think a new iGSMV4G which isn't that much more than a new VISTA-GSM4G will get you to where you want to be (Total Connect 2.0 and 3G/4G capable) so I would suggest you look into that option to avoid having to buy a third 21iP system. Also, they are finally making panels that are firmware upgradeable (LYNX Touch L5200/L7000) so they are improving as a company. I don't know of any other reputable panel manufacturers that allow firmware upgrades so I don't really think it's fair to put all of the blame on Honeywell.
I understand & acknowledge the reason for the upgrade and that it needs to be done, but Honeywell has made a complete disaster of it and could have handled it better. like releasing the new radio's 3 years ago that support both technologies, and making panels that are field upgradable. I already had to exchange my 21ip panel once, because in order to support TC 2.0, you had to look for a blue dot on the box to know the communicator FW would support it. Now, again, I am having to go through this just to support 4g. I can see having to upgrade the radio, but why would panel need to be upgraded for this as well?? Could they not use a backwards compatible interface between the 4g radio and existing 21ip panels? Yes, they could have, but that doesn't make enough money I suppose. I paid extra to have the 21ip so that everything was integrated, which was clearly a mistake. I don't even understand why they sell it, since there are now 4 versions out in the wild, and no easy way to tell which version you have, short of playing 'guess the sticker'. I suppose you are just better off just getting a 20p and the add-on communicator, since the ECP bus is about the only thing that has stayed consistent. Honeywell has taken a steampunk approach to future-izing the ancient ademco technology they inherited, and it's a complete joke.
While I do agree that Honeywell could have done a better job of future proofing the 21iP, the need to upgrade your 2G communicator is due to AT&T's cellular network changing. Instead of buying a new 21iP and GSM, you could add the iGSMV4G (https://www.alarmgrid.com/products/honeywell-igsmv4g) to your 21iP. There is a jumper on the board that can be changed so that the panel would use the external communicator instead of the internal IP communicator of the 21iP.
This is why honeywell p*sses me off. I have a 21ip panel and vista-gsm module that are less than 2 years old.. now I have to plan on throwing away nearly $350 on new equipment for an issue that could have been resolved by a simple firmware upgrade (for the panel anyway). I don't suppose honeywell is offering a trade up deal either.. Sorry to rant :)

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