By Daniel Rosales, Senior Director of Technical Service and Support
Landline telephones have been used for communication since the 1800s. While the “plain old telephone system,” or POTS, was traditionally used for fire system communication, the rise of cellular communication presents a better alternative.
Here’s why cellular communication offers a more reliable and cost-effective solution for fire system communication.
Cellular Communication Is More Cost-Effective
Typically, an integrator can offer a property manager more than a 50 percent decrease in the monthly cost for a commercial fire system using cellular technology compared to a traditional landline. The property owner gets a better system, eliminates the telephone company cost and reduces their operating expenses.
NFPA 72 code provides guidance on the communication paths for commercial fire applications. While traditional phone lines can still be used to satisfy the requirement of having two pathways, only the communication pathways that can be highly supervised are allowed to replace the two-path system for a sole-path solution. For example, cellular meets that requirement with one-hour supervision. Due to the cost differences between commercial land lines and cellular communication, even in situations where one landline is used, the introduction of cellular as that second path provides considerable savings.
The added bonus is that the recurring monthly revenue for cellular communication goes to the integrator rather than directly into the pockets of big corporate telephone companies.
Cellular Communication Is More Reliable
As the message makes its way from the panel to the central station, it will travel through many switches and nodes along the way. In scenarios where two landlines are used, there is a very good chance that the communication paths will converge at some point as they get to a common switch, establishing a single point of failure. This invalidates the true redundancy of having two pathways.
Furthermore, many of these switches along the way are under the control of different service providers and can undergo unexpected changes that would be unknown to the facility managers that procured the landline service. Because these lines cannot be highly supervised, it could be hours before a missed message alerts the central station that something is wrong. However, with cellular, central stations will know that there is an issue with the communication path within the hour.
Fire Dealers Have More Control Over Cellular
Landlines are controlled by the property manager, so if they want to change from AT&T to Verizon or other landline service providers, for example, the fire dealers might be the last to know. With cellular, fire dealers are in control of any changes to the service.
At the same time, as traditional copper landlines degrade, carriers are opting to avoid costly repairs and are abandoning them, often without notice. This can leave many without traditional landline service. Unlike traditional landlines, cellular is not a dying technology, but an evolving one. This means providers are looking to improve rather than maintain antiquated services.