Dual-Path Communication vs Cellular Only

Dual-path communication involves using IP connectivity (WIFI or ethernet) with cellular as a backup. Cellular only means that the system only uses cellular communication, and it will not have any backup path available. But this is usually okay due to the excellent reliability of cellular.

When planning up an alarm system, a user will often have to decide what type of communication path the system will use. Two of the most popular options are dual-path communication and cellular only. Dual-path is seen as the optimal communication path in most situations. This is because it will offer slightly faster speeds and provide the system with two possible communication paths. But using cellular alone is still perfectly adequate for almost every situation.

The typical dual-path setup involves using an Internet Protocol (WIFI or ethernet) as the primary communication path and have cellular as the backup path. The reason that IP connectivity is usually the primary path is because IP communication is typically faster than cellular communication. However, the speed difference is largely negligible for alarm systems, since only very small data packets are normally sent out. If the IP connection goes out, the system will automatically switch over to its cellular backup.

A cellular-only system will only use cellular connectivity to send out signals. This is technically inferior to dual-path communication for two main reasons. First, the system will have no IP backup in the unlikely event that cellular service goes down or becomes unavailable. Second, cellular communication is very slightly slower than IP communication in most cases.

However, it's important to understand that cellular-only is still a perfectly acceptable solution in most cases. Modern cellular connections are extremely fast, and a user is not likely to notice any real difference in speed between cellular communication and IP communication. Additionally, cellular communication is remarkably reliable, and it assures that signals will go through in virtually any circumstance.

If a user ever has to choose between cellular communication and IP communication for their alarm system, they should almost certainly go with a cellular connection. Unlike cellular, an IP connection can become lost due to a power outage. Some areas may also occasionally lose internet service for seemingly no reason. However, an internet connection is still nice to have around in a dual-path setup, as it never really hurts to have a second communication path. The slightly faster speed of IP is also helpful.

Both a dual-path communication setup and a cellular-only setup will allow an alarm system to work with an interactive service platform, such as Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com. These services allow users to control their systems remotely using their smartphones or by accessing a website. They make for a great addition to any alarm system, and they can really make a user's life more convenient.

However, Alarm.com specifically requires that an alarm system has a designated Alarm.com-compatible communicator (usually cellular). So in most cases, a cellular connection (cell-only or dual-path) is required to use ADC. As for Total Connect 2.0, an compatible Honeywell Panel can use the service, as long as it has an IP and/or cellular connection. In other words, TC2 is possible with an IP-only connection. Alarm.com is not normally possible with an IP-only connection.

Finally, we want to give a quick note on phone line connections. Do not use them! POTS (plain old telephone service) is unreliable, and it is very slow. The signals will sometimes even fail to go through entirely. Additionally, a phone line connection cannot be used with an interactive service platform like Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com. No modern alarm system should use a phone line connection. Instead, a dual-path connection or a cellular-only connection is strongly recommended.

Did you find this answer useful?

We offer alarm monitoring as low as $10 / month

Click Here to Learn More