Is the intruder alarm market ready to embrace 5G?

New York, NY (USA)

Advances in telecommunications technologies are making intruder alarm systems more versatile, by increasing the speed and stability of communications between the sensors, control panels and alarm receiving centres. However, according to recent information from IHS Markit, the rate of adoption of the latest communication technologies in the intruder alarm industry has been quite slow.

However, with the promise of 5G offering much higher speeds and connection stability, the technology could open the opportunities for more product and system innovation.

In the world of internet of things (IoT) for both residential and commercial applications, devices equipped with 5G-capable chipsets can offer superior battery life and much lower power consumption in wired systems. This functionality is crucial to reducing overall system maintenance costs, increasing their longevity and guaranteeing signal transmission stability that is far superior to existing technologies. In residential systems, the benefits of longer battery life and improved transmission capability could enable live video verification of intruder alarms on a wider scale. In commercial systems, 5G connectivity could support deployment of smart buildings that aim to improve the environmental footprint of commercial buildings, while delivering the benefits of automation.

5G could accompany cloud technologies in enabling real interconnected environments and to leverage big data. While the cloud has enabled the processing of large data sets from a variety of building and home systems, the research shows that 5G could greatly speed up the transmission between systems, while improving connection stability. These benefits are particularly important to high-security applications where the costs of unsent or delayed signals could be very high.

Analysts suggest that it is probably still a little too early to tell. 5G is still at a very early adoption and deployment stage. Current global coverage of the 4G network is not universal, as certain countries only have partial coverage. This lack of 4G coverage reduces the popularity of this frequency for alarm communication, since the service offered by 5G-ready equipment may not work.

Significantly higher deployment costs on a national level may lead to postponement of country-wide rollouts, which will make investment in 5G technologies for intrusion systems riskier for manufacturers that do not prioritize 5G in their home markets. International markets may instead offer an opportunity.

5G technology is only beginning to roll out in certain countries, and its full potential has yet to be realised. Any IoT device or a security system equipped with 5G-capable chipsets will likely see a steep price increase, before the technology can become mainstream, like 3G and 4G. For end-users to accept a significant price increase, the comparable functionalities offered by these systems would have to be significantly higher than those currently offered. In the residential sector, these offerings might only resonate with more savvy users of intruder alarm – primarily those who are interested in advanced ultra-smart home security systems. In commercial systems, 5G benefits may be more readily realised in smart buildings that integrate intruder alarm systems with other building systems, or with high-security applications.

In addition, analysts say that the volume of data transferred through 5G networks will be enormous, which has strengthened existing concerns about the cyber security of big data and the potential for misuse or breaches.

5G could be the technology that offers the best of all available communication technologies to the security industry. However, the regulations covering intrusion systems in many countries require dual-path communication for ultimate confidence in a system’s ability to send out alerts of intrusion. The ultimate test for 5G in intruder alarm systems will be around the question of whether 5G is necessary to accomplish what modern and future intruder alarm systems are capable of. However, embracing the opportunity for innovation, which 5G can offer, could help make future intrusion systems more efficient and capable.


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