How Do Cellular Home Security Systems Work?
Cellular security systems work by using a cellular module that has been activated by a monitoring company to connect to a cellular network. This will allow the system to send communication signals to a central station and/or to the end user. Most panels will need an upgrade to use cellular.
The basic function of a monitored security system is to send outbound alerts that let others know about alarm events that occur. These alerts can be sent to a central station so that automatic emergency dispatch is sent out in the event of an alarm. This is called central station monitoring. The system can also send alerts to the end user directly so that they can contact the authorities on their own. This is known as self-monitoring. Whether a user receives central station monitoring or self-monitoring will depend on their monitoring plan. Cellular service is one way of ensuring that these outbound alerts get sent out successfully.
Cellular communication is arguably the best communication path available for an alarm system. This is because cellular communication is extremely reliable, and it offers very fast speeds. Unlike IP connectivity, cellular service is almost never down or unavailable. Cellular service is also unaffected by typical power outages, and it is the only reliable way to keep an alarm system monitored when the electricity is out. Additionally, the speeds offered from a modern LTE cellular connection are on par with those from a WIFI connection.
It is important to remember that there are multiple cellular networks, and not every alarm system connects to the same one. Additionally, not every cellular network is created equal. Each cellular service provider (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) maintains a series of different cellular networks (LTE, 4G, CDMA, etc.). The specific network that an alarm system will connect with depends upon the communicator that is installed. Therefore, if an alarm system has an AT&T LTE communicator, it will connect with the AT&T LTE cellular network.
For best results, Alarm Grid recommends using an LTE communicator with the cellular service provider that works best in the area. LTE stands for "Long-Term Evolution", and it represents the latest in cellular technology. With an LTE communicator, a system will experience the fastest possible speeds, and it will be supported by the cellular service provider for many years to come. Meanwhile, other less-advanced cellular networks provide slower speeds, and they are set to be discontinued by cellular service providers in the coming years. That is why going with an LTE communicator is almost always the best option.
However, there are a few things that a user will need to get cellular service for their alarm system. First, the system will need a cellular communicator. Most systems will require that a cellular radio be added separately. But some systems, like the Qolsys IQ Panel 2, come with one already built-in. Cellular communicators are relatively easy to install, and the process can usually be completed by the end user. Once installed, the communicator will still need to be registered and activated by the alarm monitoring company before it will function. The user will also need an alarm monitoring plan that includes cellular service. For Alarm Grid customers these are the Gold and Platinum monitoring plans.
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