2G sunset: Now or never

Plan, prepare, get started, experts say
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Alarm Protection Services has converted 1,100 of the 1,800 2G systems in its customer base. That’s helped its business and it only lost four customers who did not want to upgrade, according to Spencer Smith, APS president. Dealers need a plan to be so successful in their conversion, according to Quentin Gunther, Honeywell business development manager.

Smith spoke about how his company approached the conversion at Honeywell CONNECT 2015, held here this month. Gunther also spoke at the conference.

2G signals are becoming outdated and the final sunset date, when they will no longer be active on cellular towers, is Dec. 31, 2016. Gunther made a distinction about the date: This is not when all 2G receivers will be turned off, it is the date when the ongoing shutdown will be done. Some areas have already lost 2G.

APS hired extra staff to help with the conversion, a coordinator and one technician. The company experimented with more staff but found that this set-up worked best, Smith said.

Being proactive about the 2G sunset comes with benefits, according to Smith. It provides opportunities to reconnect with customers, renew monitoring contracts and upsell newer equipment. APS has had a 96 percent success rate in renewing contracts. Twenty-two percent chose to add Honeywell Total Connect systems.

Smith also said that training technicians to install the new 4G systems and conducting sales demos is important.

The way a security company contacts its customer base also matters. Only 12 percent of APS customers converted their systems when contacted via email, “Customers thought it was a scam," he said. On the other hand, APS had a 90 percent success rate when it sent direct, physical mail, he said.

Gunther said “the consumer is much more informed than you think [about the 2G sunset].” He cited consumers’ ability to search any current issue on their smart phones and pull up articles on it.

The Honeywell CONNECT conference also covered Wi-Fi as a communication channel for alarm signals. The main issue with IP signals had been reliability, according to the presentation, but that connection is getting more reliable as people place more importance and trust on Internet connectivity in their homes.

Systems could mainly transmit over IP, but then have GSM as a back-up path for signals. There are drawbacks, according to the presenters: Wi-Fi equipment can be changed, such as the provider, modem or router, which could compromise the set up of a security system relying on IP.