Conquering wired mindset is next challenge

Sunday, June 1, 2003

The comfort level most installers and users have with wired technology has emerged as one of the biggest obstacles to widespread acceptance.

Yet players in the wireless field said they are putting significant effort and investment into the marketplace based on what has happened on the residential side and the growth of wireless in industries beyond security.

Al Lizza, director of marketing for Ademco, said wireless is in the early adoption stage, but added, “we view its growth in commercial will be as acceptable as it is in residential. Wireless is a major component of our business and we are constantly refining it and upgrading it.”

Commercial installers who had reservations about wireless will need time to see that it works, he added. “They are comfortable with wired systems,” he said of installing companies and AHJs, “therefore, they see it as most reliable.”

Both Lizza and Dave Mayne, vice-president-dealer marketing for GE Interlogix Security and Life Safety Group, said part of wireless’ growth and acceptance initially has been via hybrid systems, that combine wired and wireless features. The benefit of the hybrid, Lizza noted, “is it gives the installation company, on one platform, the option to choose the best technology for what they want to do.”

Mayne said the industry has had a hard time accepting arguments that one system is better than another, therefore the hybrid is often what’s put into place.

Still, he said, wireless is likely to grow because “people want the freedom…and the ability to do different things.”

To achieve that end, Nick Martello, director of marketing for Notifier, a part of Honeywell International’s Fire Solutions Group, said some remaining barriers need to be hurdled. These include being able to change the sensitivities on wireless detectors after they are in place. “Until the time comes we have a full duplex system with two-way communication, we won’t have wireless take over,” he said.

Martello said other barriers are price and perceived reliability. While there may be cost savings on the installation side, wireless technology still carries a higher price tag than wired, he said.

And as with residential systems, commercial products have to prove themselves to gain widespread acceptance. “There are still people who may not trust the technology,” he said.

But GE’s Mayne said security providers just needs to look at other industries for inspiration. “The wireless market across all industries is driving the technology,” Mayne noted. Today, he said, “you can solve 80 percent of commercial problems through wireless. We want to get to 100 percent.”