Industry gives wireless mixed reviews

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Thursday, September 1, 2005

The next path for standalone systems, say many in the marketplace, is wireless.
"There's definitely a trend toward wireless," noted Rick Rasmussen, vice president-sales and marketing at OSI Security Devices Inc. The company plans a September release of a new wireless access control system.
The advantage of wireless, noted OSI President Derek Trimble, is the ability to drive down the cost of installation for access control. The installation of eight readers per host can take three hours vs. 20 hours for a hard-wired system, noted Trimble. Also part of the cost savings, he said, is the elimination of cabling the building. "I think market sensitivity to the cost of wire and cable will help drive the market," he said.
What is necessary to spread the growth of wireless, he said, is education on its capabilities. "There's so much wireless technology already," he said, "but people just don't realize it."
Felix Mira, marketing manager for the electronic systems group at IR Security Technologies said wireless "blends the two worlds (of standalone and hard-wired access control) nicely. It moves people toward an integrated access control system."
Wireless also brings access control into areas where it traditionally wasn't considered, he said, via the use of portable wireless readers. These can be taken to remote sites, such as ball fields, so student ID cards can be used on standalone readers as admission to sporting events.
Wireless, he added, is a good solution for areas where trenching for cable or wiring is a difficult and costly task, such as remote parking gates and elevators.
"The advent of wireless brings access control to more points within a facility," said Mira.
Others in the industry are more skeptical of the widespread use of wireless. "I'm not convinced wireless is the way to go for a secure security system," said Mike McQuillan, technical manager at Rutherford Controls. McQuillan said it is important to have some infrastructure in place before embarking on a wireless solution. "You need to look at the network infrastructure first," he said.
"I see a big opportunity for wireless," said John Hunepohl, director-integrated solutions specialist program for Assa Abloy. "The question is: How good is the technology?"
Wireless, he said, still has gaps in its reliability. "It can work today, but tomorrow they change the configuration of the room and it doesn't work. If you try to use a (wireless) lock as a 24/7 device, it may not be the best choice."
For Hunepohl, the jury is still out on how soon wireless will be a major factor in the standalone locking system market. "I don't see a perfect system being created yet."