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Double take on 2G: Readers see 'sunset' differently

 - 
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

If nothing else, last week's blog on the 2G sunset served to toss another log on the fire in the debate over how long the technology will last in the face of frequency harvesting by carriers. Among the responses I received was an argument that 2G will remain viable in part due to CDMA-based equipment, which could stick around a lot longer than its GPRS and GMS cousins.

"I was reading your 2G sunset blog this morning and wanted to point out that many cellular alarm solution providers support T-Mobile USA or other 2G carriers along with AT&T Wireless coverage," said the reader, who said I could pass along his remarks on condition of anonymity. "AT&T is the carrier making the most noise about phasing out 2G GPRS, but T-Mobile has no current plans to sunset. Also, CDMA-based carriers like Verizon and Sprint still have a long planned life for 2G CDMA."

The reader agreed that the issue is critical for the industry, saying the majority of cellular alarm systems currently deployed utilize 2G GPRS on AT&T. But he took issue with the terminology being used and urged others to do the same.

"While AT&T-based cellular alarm providers certainly have the largest marketing presence, please be careful referring to the AT&T GPRS sunset as a '2G sunset,' because many 2G alarm solutions will stay viable for a long time," he said.

Another reader, Steve Wallace, called attention to the fact that just because no carrier has announced a date for the sunset, it doesn't mean it's not going to happen. He said the process has already begun and commented that companies not paying heed "may be looking at this wrong."

"For quite a while some carriers, such as AT&T, have stopped certifying new 2G devices," Wallace said. "Carriers have begun to re-purpose [refarm] the 2G spectrum into LTE offerings. 2G equipment is retiring and is being replaced for 4G. 3G expansion has virtually ceased."

The reality for alarm companies is that signal strength will decline for a lot of equipment in the field as these changes take hold.

"Alarm systems with 2G radios could become more problematic long before 'sunset' is announced," he said.

Like I mentioned last week, a sunset date by AT&T would likely knock a lot of people off the fence if they've been considering a move to 3G/4G. All is quiet at the moment, but it would be shortsighted to think it’s going to stay that way. Alarm companies would be wise to plan accordingly and keep a sharp eye on the horizon.

Interactive services provider gets $136m

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

First, Alarm.com recently announced a milestone—that it has more than 1 million subscribers. Now the 12-year-old Vienna, Va.-based provider of interactive security services has announced that it has $136 million in new funding, made by a leading provider of capital to growth-stage technology companies.

The company says the investment from Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) will enable Alarm.com to continue to develop new products.

Here’s more from the news release Alarm.com issued today:
 

The investment will allow Alarm.com to continue to focus on developing and delivering the most innovative products in the market. TCV General Partner Tim McAdam will join Alarm.com’s Board of Directors along with the existing investor ABS Capital Partners.

“Alarm.com is pleased to welcome TCV as a new partner in the business and we are thrilled to have Tim joining our Board of Directors”, said Steve Trundle, CEO of Alarm.com. “TCV’s well established track record of growth investments in software and technology companies will be a strategic asset for us. We look forward to continued focus on developing new and innovative products and growing our business.”
“Alarm.com’s best of breed software services and device management platform has established the company as the premier solution provider of interactive security services,” said TCV General Partner Tim McAdam. “We are excited to work with Alarm.com to continue its growth and build on its track record of innovation.”

Alarm.com, founded in 2000, is the industry leading technology provider of interactive security, automation and energy management solutions. Through its proven technology platform and advanced wireless, mobile and web-based solutions, Alarm.com helps protect and empower over a million residential and commercial customers throughout North America. Alarm.com delivers interactive security, video monitoring, home automation and energy management to users exclusively through a network of thousands of licensed and authorized Dealer Partners. For more information, visit the company's website at www.alarm.com.

I've reached out to the company to learn more about what this new capital will mean for Alarm.com and its dealer partners. Stay tuned to our site.

Prevent CO poisoning: Alarm companies should help Californians help themselves

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It’s now more than a year since California’s new law mandating carbon monoxide detectors in all single-family homes with an attached garage or fossil fuel source. However, a new survey shows many residents remain unprotected.

Seems to me there’s a marketing opportunity here that alarm companies would do well to take advantage of—to not only help themselves but also California residents.

It’s true that the new law, which took effect July 1, 2011, doesn’t require Californians to opt for monitored alarms instead of ones they can buy at the hardware store. But in a story I wrote last summer, John Hopper, president of the California Alarm Association, said he believes many residents will chose the monitored option as the safest.

“The state law has positioned us to perhaps increase revenues for the industry, from sales of the devices and associated monitoring,” he told me then.

A year later, perhaps this new survey will provide added impetus for residents and alarm companies.

Below is more from a recent news release on the survey, which was done on behalf of Kidde, a manufacturer of residential fire safety products, and the California Safe Homes Coalition. Kidde is a part of UTC Climate, Controls & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp.
 

While more than half of Californians are aware of a law requiring residential carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, many residents remain unprotected, according to a survey from independent research group, Qualtrics. Nearly half (46 percent) of respondents do not have a CO alarm in their home despite the overwhelming presence of both fuel-burning appliances (84 percent) and attached garages (75 percent) – the state-determined criteria for installation and primary risk factors for accidental CO poisoning.
 
The results come on the eve of the law’s one-year anniversary on July 1. Nearly half of respondents without a CO alarm stated they know they need one, but haven’t found the time to install the life-saving device. Another one-third of respondents believe that they do not need an alarm even though it is the only safe way to detect CO, an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas.

“We are encouraged that many California residents have heard our message, understand the dangers of CO poisoning and have installed an alarm,” explained Kevin Nida, president, California State Firefighters’ Association (CSFA), a supporter of the California Safe Homes Coalition and co-sponsor of State Bill 183. “However, we urge those who have not yet acted to do so now. Carbon monoxide is perceived as an issue that only impacts cold-weather states, and that’s not a safe assumption. We’ve experienced the tragedy of CO poisonings here in California all too often.”
 
Called the ‘silent killer’ because many people do not realize they’re being poisoned until it’s too late, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It claims 400 lives and injures another 20,000 each year nationwide. California officials estimate CO poisoning causes 700 avoidable injuries and hospitalizations annually.
 
“I miss my sister every day. Unfortunately, no one in my family knew about CO poisoning until it was too late,” said Walnut, Calif. resident Ta Juan Campbell.  His sister, Tyra Lynn, died of accidental CO poisoning in her Beverly Hills apartment in 1998. Campbell founded the Tyra Lynn Foundation to raise awareness of CO poisoning.  “If you’ve put off installing a CO alarm, don’t wait. It could save your family.”
 
California’s law aims to protect families, while reducing the number of associated casualties.  A final phase requiring CO alarms in existing multi-family residential dwellings goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

 

Lights out for 2G? 'Sunset' debate heats up

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Still looking for clarity about the “2G sunset” and whether you’ll be left holding the bag if you don’t upgrade your cellular alarm communicators to 3G (or even 4G) right now?   

You’re not alone. The buzz continued last month at ESX, with manufacturers jockeying to try to sway alarm dealers. Telguard, the company sounding the loudest warning about the sunset, went one step further by announcing a program that gives dealers up to $25 for every 2G cell communicator they replace with a Telguard 3G/4G product. The company does not sell 2G.

“We estimate the industry has 3 million 2G radios that will have to be replaced in the next five years,” said Shawn Welsh, vice president of marketing and business development for Telguard.

Unlike AMPS, the date for the 2G sunset will not be determined by the FCC; it will determined by cellular carriers based on capacity constraints and customer demand for 3G. Carriers have already begun reallocating frequency spectrum to accommodate 3G, Welsh said, cutting into the effectiveness of 2G equipment.

But not everyone believes the sky is falling when it comes to 2G, at least not in the next few years. Among those taking a different approach is Mike Boyle, general manager of Uplink. The company is continuing to offer 2G lines while rolling out 4G at the same time.

“People are still buying a lot of 2G products,” he said. “We think we may continue to sell 2G beyond the third quarter of this year. Everything we see in the network says it will be around.”

Uplink backs its business plan with the following assertions on its website:

—2G is a proven technology with falling price points as manufacturing costs decrease.
—No carrier has announced a sunset date for its 2G network.
—Uplink’s communicators operate with multiple carriers and will continue to provide nationwide coverage late into the decade or longer.

The company also offers a lifetime guarantee to replace its 2G products with 4G if the 2G units fail to operate due to a carrier technology change. Boyle said the approach covers all bases by recognizing the realities of the marketplace.

“Requests for 4G are minimal,” he said. “When a guy asks for 4G, we ship 4G. But our business is still 98 percent 2G.”

An industry source who spoke to Security Systems News on condition of anonymity said a sunset announcement from AT&T would be made “in the next few months,” which could knock a lot of people off the fence if they’ve been considering a move to 3G/4G. But longevity is key for alarm dealers, and if they can hang onto their 2G gear for another year or two (or four), many probably will.

It’s the nature of the beast.

San Fran PE firm buys big biometrics company

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cross Match Technologies, one of the largest providers of biometrics, has been acquired by PE firm Francisco Partners.

I spoke to David Buckley, when he was named CEO of Cross Match in March 2011.

At that time, he said his goal with the company was to “continue the evolution of the company from being just a technology player into providing a full set of solutions for the customer.”

Buckley is traveling until mid-August, but I’m hoping to speak to John Hinmon, who’s in charge of marketing and some M&A activity at the company.
I’ve left a couple of messages for Tom Ludwig COO at Francisco Partners, but haven’t heard back yet. The company web site says the group provides "transformational capital for technology companies."  

It has 55 portfolio companies I didn’t notice any other physical security companies when I glanced at their list of investments.  The FP statement notes the Cross Match has “secured significant contracts with the most discerning government clients.”  

Cross Match, which makes fingerprint, palm and full hand scanners, facial recognition, iris scanning, document readers and biometric software, has contracts with DoD and DHS among others. In the private sector side,  Cross Match works in hospitality, gaming and financial services. It has 400 employees, 5,000 customers worldwide and over 250,000 products deployed in over 80 countries

Founded in1996 and based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Cross Match also has offices in Washington D.C., Quebec and in Jena, Germany. It does cross-engineering with its office in Germany and has several partners it works with in Asia.

Terms of the deal were not released.

 

Don't email, call today

 - 
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wondering why Tess, Rich, Whit and I haven't returned your email today?

We can't.

Mail server has been down all day and is supposed to be down until tomorrow morning.

If you need to reach us, give us a call: 207-846-0600, Martha: ext. 261; Tess: ext. 232; Rich: ext. 254; Whit: ext. 227.

 

Get your new product listed in SSN's ASIS show products section

 - 
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Manufacturers: Do you have a new product that you'll be introducing at ASIS this year? Would you like to have it appear in the September issue of Security Systems News in the ASIS show products section?

Just follow the simple instructions below, and get all the material to us before the August 10 deadline.

Is the August 10 deadline firm? Yes.

All companies exhibiting at the show can submit a product that is making its debut at ASIS 2012 in September. Companies that have more than one division may submit one product for each division.
>  
> To take advantage of this free editorial opportunity, please send an email with the following information in the body of the email to cdaggett@securitysystemsnews.com
>  
> 1. Company name (to be published)
> 2. New product name (to be published)
> 3. Description of new product (no longer than 75 words)
> 4. Photograph of your product, 300 dpi or better. This is optional.
> 5. Web site (to be published)
> 6. Company telephone number—only ONE please (to be published)
> 7. ASIS Booth number (essential; you must be exhibiting at ASIS)
> 8. Contact number at your company for follow up. (This will not be published and we’ll only contact you if we have questions or a problem.)
>  
> The firm deadline is August 10. Space in the print issue is limited, and products will be listed in the order in which we receive them so get your information in early.
>  
> Questions? Please contact Cath Daggett, advertising coordinator for SSN and SDN. Her number is 207-846-0600, ext. 300, and her email is cdaggett@securitysystemsnew.com.

Rapid plans to add up to 200 jobs in Syracuse expansion

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rapid Response has won preliminary approval for a tax break that could pave the way for an $11.3 million expansion on its home turf in Syracuse, according to a report Tuesday in The Post-Standard.

The project, which would add up to 200 jobs, would include the purchase and renovation of the 37,500-square-foot building that Rapid currently leases, according to the report. Rapid also plans to build a 20,000-square-foot facility nearby.

The “payment in lieu of taxes” deal, or PILOT, approved by the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency would save Rapid about $738,000 over 10 years. A sales tax exemption on construction materials is expected to save the company another $500,000, the report said.

The expansion is not a done deal, however. The tax plan still needs to be approved by the City Council, with a bigger potential hurdle at a higher level: acquiring financial help from the state.

Ben Walsh, the city’s deputy commissioner of neighborhood and business development, told The Post-Standard that the project is contingent on Rapid receiving assistance from Empire State Development, a state agency.

An application has been submitted to the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, which recommends projects for state funding. ESD officials are expected to announce the list of projects that receive funds by late October.

A start date for the project, which the company says would take about two years to complete, has not been announced.

Vivint using social media to recruit sales talent

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Everyone likes to gab about their workplace, whether it’s to colleagues at happy hour after work, or by posting on Facebook or your social media channel of choice. But your workplace paying you to talk about it? That’s what Vivint is doing for its employees.
According to a news release this week, the Utah-based summer-model home automation and security company is utilizing redKonnect, “a word-of-mouth marketing web application,” to help it reward employees who pass the word to friends that Vivint has job openings and is a good place to work. The company says data show the retention rates for friend-referred employees are much higher than those of employees recruited through other means.
Here’s more from the July 17 release:

With the help of redKonnect, a word-of-mouth marketing web application, Vivint is rewarding its employees with cash for simply posting about Vivint job openings on social media. That is, Vivint is incentivizing its most loyal employees to tell their friends that Vivint is hiring inside salespeople.
In fact, every time their Vivint employees post and tweet about Vivint using redKonnect, they get paid, and every time their friends click on their post tweets they get paid more. Posts, tweets and clicks generate points and redKonnect, which their employees can convert to cash on PayPal with the click of a button. Talk about giving back.
As for some hard stats, since launching their campaign with redKonnect, Vivint fans and employees have generated, on average, 9 clicks with every endorsement. And dozens of these endorsements were generated within just a few days of the campaign launching.
Given the premium sales-centered companies place on recruiting, Vivint’s redKonnect campaign seems to represent an innovative and exemplary move toward better utilization of social media for recruiting of talented salespeople.

Vivint seems confident employees will give the company a strong endorsement. Vivint says it has “some of the highest rates of employee satisfaction and productivity.”
Benefits the company says it offers workers include health and dental coverage, paid vacation days, and a generous 401K package, as well as free lunch, casual dress and exercise facilities.
The release quotes company CEO Todd Pederson as saying, “My father always told me that if you treat the people who work for you like gold, everything else will fall into place.”

 

OV drops Samsung case, ITC trial involving Bosch starts today

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ObjectVideo issued a statement at 7:30 this morning announcing that it has dropped patent infringement charges against Samsung.  The statement came two hours before an International Trade Commission trial began at 9:30 this morning.

I called ObjectVideo, but they’re not saying anything beyond what’s in the press release. I also have a call into Samsung.

The release says that ObjectVideo filed an unopposed motion to terminate the International Trade Commission investigation against Samsung.  “Both parties agreed this was the appropriate next step as part of our continued efforts to resolve the dispute between the companies,” Raul Fernandez, CEO of ObjectVideo, is quoted as saying in the press release.

“The public trial against Bosch at the USITC, resulting from an investigation pertaining to products from Robert Bosch GmbH and Bosch Security Systems, Inc., continues as planned,” the release said.

“With Samsung out of the ITC action, we can focus on Bosch, whose products implement numerous infringing video analytic technologies, including metadata, tripwire, and slip-and-fall technology,” added Fernandez.

OV first filed a court complaint in April of 2011. It moved the complaint to the ITC in July of 2011.

The trial began this morning at the USITC in Washington.

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