IP/Cellular Dual Path Alarm Communicators Dominate ISC 2017

As POTS lines disappear, security dealers are upgrading alarm panels with dual-path communicators that provide both IP (Wi-Fi or hardwired) and cellular connections to the central station.


As the sun sets on POTS phone lines and 2G cellular service, security dealers are upgrading customers to new alarm communicators, including modern-day cell service and IP … and increasingly both.

Last month at the big security conference ISC West 2017, we saw a rash of dual-path communicators — from Napco, Elk, ipDatatel, Telular's Telguard and others — that allow security systems to take the most reliable and efficient route to the central monitoring station.

If the home network is alive and kicking, the security system will notify the central station over the Internet. If the network is offline, the system will communicate via cellular.

Napco StarLink

Products like the StarLink Connect Dual Path Alarm Communicator from Napco make sense for “difficult-to-install areas” where cell service might be spotty, says Napco’s Dave Sheffey. But they’re also ideal for “higher security applications where you want to provide an additional path.”

StarLink Connect works with Napco’s own security panels, as well as a growing list of third-party systems including Honeywell and DSC. The Z-Wave version of Connect enables these security panels to take full advantage of Napco’s iBridge SHaaS (smart home as a service) for remote security and home-automation services.

In addition, Napco introduced at ISC a new dual-path communicator for commercial fire alarm panels. The StarLink Fire (pdf) replaces two landlines per NFPA code with dual-path cellular (Verizon or AT&T) and/or IP radios.

Napco dual-path communicators at ISC West 2017

ipDatatel and Telular Telguard

Also at ISC, we saw dual-path communicators from two of the major radio providers for the alarm industry.

ipDatatel showcased its BAT LTE and BAT CDMA WIFI communicators featuring dual paths for Wi-Fi and Verizon cellular service. It connects via keybus to GE/Caddx, Honeywell and DSC panels.

In addition to traditional alarm communications, the ipDatatel product enables remote programming and offers interactive services via the company’s SecureSmart app. It can push event notifications to users via text, email and voice.

Add ipDatatel’s Z-Wave Gateway 3.0 and users can remotely monitor and manage home-automation devices, including ONVIF-compatible cameras.

ipDatatel dual-path BAT LTE communicator and SecureSmart Cloud service, shown with Helix alarm panel from Resolution Products.

Similarly, competitor Telular touted its own dual-path communicator at ISC, announcing new features for the Telguard TG-SCI. The company calls it “the industry’s first dual pathway for alarm transmission that combines Wi-Fi with pay-on-demand cellular service.”

Telular's Telguard TG-SCI with SafetyNet (and FlexHub smart-home controller)

The cellular service costs almost nothing, as long as it is used less than three times per month. If there is an alarm event and the network is down, and the system must report over cellular in more than two instances, then the user is charged a fixed fee for the month.

Telguard marketing VP Shawn Welsh tells CE Pro, “It’s an opportunistic way to leverage [free] Wi-Fi, but if it flakes out in a moment of need, there’s a safety net.”

Indeed, the service is called SafetyNet. It has been available in the past for Interlogix Simon panels, but now Telguard offers the TG-SCI Plus with SafetyNet for traditional dial-capture alarm panels and the TG-SCI Expansion Pack that allows the device to work with additional all-in-one panels such as the Simon 3, Honeywell Lynx and DSC Alexor.

Telular also rolled out the new Telguard FlexHub at ISC, featuring Z-Wave technology for integrating with home-automation devices. Previously, Telular offered cloud services through Icontrol (now Alarm.com), but now the company has its own SHaaS back-end, including integration with the if/then engine IFTTT.

Elk Products C1M1

While the dual-path communicators from Napco, ipDatatel and Telular work with third-party alarm systems, Elk Products recently rolled out the C1M1 dual-path solution for its own M1 line of alarm and Z-Wave home-automation products.

In the past, Elk dealers would use third-party communicators, but Elk’s own product enables faster, more reliable communications from the security panel because it doesn’t rely on the usual dial-capture or data-bus decoding. The product alerts users if one of the pathways is down.

In addition, the C1M1 calls the central station directly, without first going through a cloud service. Elk does, however, offer cloud services (ElkLink and M1 Cloud) for interactive security and home automation.

Elk C1M1 dual-path alarm communicator for Elk's M1 security and automation system.