Cellular Communicators — What are they and does yours need to be upgraded?

If you have a Security System, or are thinking of installing one, here’s what you need to know about cellular monitoring and its benefits.

What is the difference between a Wireless and Cellular Security SystemWhen you investigate purchasing or activating monitoring for a security system, you will hear the terms wireless and cellular used. So what is the difference? 

Wireless refers to the wireless connection between the security system sensors and the control  panel. Instead of wires, the connection is through radio waves.

Cellular refers to how the control panel communicates to your security monitoring company as well as your cell phone, tablet, or computer apps. In other words, a cellular-based security system uses the cellular network to connect to the monitoring station in case of an emergency. 

Cell Phone Technology Keeps Advancing: It is important to remember that home security is only as effective as its weakest link. While cellular alarm monitoring requires that you have a cellular communicator in your security system, the technology offers significant advantages over landline-based systems. Advantages include:

  • Cellular communicators are more stable. Cellular communicator-based systems use the same reliable network of cell towers as your mobile phone to communicate with the monitoring center. Security systems that rely on an internet connection lose monitoring communication in the event of an internet outage to your home. Landline-based home security systems have a physical connection which can be vulnerable to burglars, power outages, construction, and the elements (heavy snow or storms) that can sever the connection to your phone provider.
  • Remote monitoring – A great advantage of cellular communication is the option to monitor your home or business remotely. With an app you can add to your monitoring, you will be able to arm/disarm and manage security alerts, and the status of your secured property, even while you’re away.

Are you thinking about dropping your home phone line? Secur-Tek recommends using a cell communicator.  Cellular technology has progressed to the point where it is more secure than the traditional phone line. Additionally, it is more reliable than a digital Internet phone service or VOIP (Voice over Internet Phone Service) that requires constant power and is susceptible to network outages. Cellular monitoring works by installing a “cellular chip” or “module” connected to the Control Panel of the alarm system. This cellular device acts as the communicator between your alarm system and the monitoring station – that is why it is called a cellular communicator.

Cellular communicators function much like a cell phone that is specifically dedicated to your security system by communicating via cellular network data channels. In essence, the cellular communicator installed into the Control Panel of your alarm system acts as a connection to the “outside world”. Cellular communicators are dedicated solely to the security system, so they are not shared with any other service.

Do you need to update your current Cellular Communicator?  A cellular communicator connects with a specific cellular network. Cellular service providers are in the process of shutting down their older, non-LTE networks. As such, the new LTE cellular communicators will only connect with an LTE network tower. This cellular network is expected to remain active for many years. Companies such as Secur-Tek, Inc. that operate alarm monitoring platforms are aware of this. We are currently switching customers to LTE communicators for monitoring. While you can temporarily continue to use an older, non-LTE system  for alarm monitoring, once the associated cellular network is put out of service by the cellular service providers, the module will no longer work. So, the answer to the question above is YES — if you are using a non-LTE communicator, the clock is ticking!

We at Secur-Tek, Inc., have been working to keep our customers up to date.

All of our cellular customers requiring the upgrade should have received notifications with their monitoring invoices. Additionally, when a customer calls in for service, Secur-Tek, Inc. staff are reviewing the customer’s security features and recommending the communication upgrade be completed at the time of service. 

If you have any questions concerning your cellular communicator, we urge you to please contact us by website request or call our office at 919-387-1800.

Secur-Tek, Inc. is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, offering home and business security and monitoring. Secur-Tek also provides automation, audio, and central vacuum systems to customers in the Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, and Pittsboro areas.

Cellular Communicator – What Is It and Do I Need One?

Monitored home security alarm systems need to communicate alarm signals to a monitoring response center 24/7. Traditionally this was done with a standard wire line home phone. However, over the past several years, cellular technology has progressed to the point where it is more secure than that of the traditional wire line. Additionally, it is more reliable than a digital Internet phone service that requires constant power and is susceptible to network outages and router rests.

Cellular monitoring works by installing a “cellular chip” or “module” into the Control Panel of the alarm system. This cellular device acts as the communicator between your alarm system and the monitoring station – that is why it is called a cellular communicator.

Cellular communicators function much like a cell phone that is specifically dedicated to your security system by communicating via cellular network data channels. In essence, the cellular communicator installed into the Control Panel of your alarm system acts as a connection to the Internet or “outside world”. Because of this, anytime you send a signal or command from your phone or other devices, it uses the cellular service to communicate to your alarm system, prompting it to do something like arm or disarm.

Interactive monitoring allows you to communicate commands to your alarm system no matter where you are. Cellular communicators are dedicated solely to the security system, so they are not shared with any other service.

Some advantages of installing a Cellular Communicator are:

  •                 They are not affected by storms or network/power outages
  •                 Burglars cutting your phone line will NOT disable your alarm system
  •                 Enables remote access/interactive monitoring

For phone line monitored security systems:

  •                 If you get rid of your landline, you will need a cellular communicator.
  •                 If you decide to change digital phone carriers, you will need to reset and reconnect your security system, which requires a service visit and charge from Secur-Tek, Inc.

So if you are interested in higher security reliability and the ease of controlling parts of your security system from your smartphone, a cellular communicator may be the right solution for you.

Wondering if you need to update your system? Give us a call or fill out our contact form  we can recommend your best security options.

Thinking you’d like the added peace mind of having your system monitored?  Find out more about our monitoring service here.  

Add to Your Outdoor Enjoyment

The sky is Carolina blue and the sun is shining. You’re standing in your backyard thinking about the perfect summer barbecue. As you survey the yard, a few fantasies dance in your mind:

A new deck or stone patio?

Built in Grill?

New outdoor furniture?

A fire pit?

Or maybe even a DJ …

 

Your imagination runs wild with the vision of family, friends and neighbors laughing and talking in your backyard – but wait …. there’s something else making it fun and festive – music!! With a sad glimmer of nostalgia, you remember the boom box that used to crank out your favorite party tunes (Jimmy Buffett comes to mind) – too bad that sudden summer shower destroyed it! With those fond memories running around in your head, you decide to look into something more durable. Something that is designed specifically for your yard where you can enjoy high-fidelity sound without worrying about the batteries, extension cords or weather.

Guess what… you’re in luck! Outdoor sound systems have come a long way since the boom box era.

When installed professionally, today’s systems produce extremely high-quality sound for listeners’ enjoyment. They are also very durable and can sound great for many years. However, there are a few key factors to consideration when designing your musical environment.

First off, an outdoor sound system can’t take advantage of the reflective surfaces that make indoor speakers more efficient (e.g. floors, walls and ceiling). In addition, there is ambient noise from passing cars, chirping crickets, and kids at play to consider in your design. Because of this, outdoor speakers require enough oomph from an amplifier with sufficient wattage to power them. The most common mistake people make with outdoors systems are under powering them which leads to distorted sound, or worse, blown speakers.

Consideration must also be given to the specific design of the area where people are to gather and the type of music you prefer to play. If your area is large, you’ll want to spread the load among multiple speakers and ensure optimal positioning. Multiple speakers playing softly in the right positions will sound much better than a few pushing too hard.

The backyard environment will also expose your system to the extremes of our North Carolina weather. Quality speakers must be able to endure sun, rain and hot/cold temperatures while melding in nicely with the landscaping. There are two basic types of all-weather speakers used: simple bookshelf-type models wrapped in protective casings, or stealth speakers that masquerade as garden rocks, flowerpots, or even benches. Although these speakers are built to be left out year-round, they will last longer and look and sound better if care is taken in determining their placement. For example, box-type speakers can be positioned under the protection of eaves or arbors. In the case of stealth speakers, they can be integrated and protected by natural cover like trees and bushes.

Finally, for convenience and user flexibility, wireless outdoor speakers are ideal. They operate on a designated frequency to deliver sound from your audio devices or Internet radio and can be tied into your home automation system.

So, this summer, you can stop just thinking about it and create the outdoor experience you have always wanted by adding quality sound to liven up gatherings or help you relax after a long, stressful day.

For more information on designing and installing quality outdoor sound systems, please contact Ken Henke at Secur-Tek: (919) 387-1800.

Is Your Wireless Security System Safe?

54163030 - information security online privacy protection conceptWireless has made life easier in many ways. You can print something from your living room using your wireless printer. Your wireless phone means you don’t have to buy a 30-foot curly cord and drag it around the house. (Remember that?)

Security systems are wireless, too. While wireless has made life easier, it also makes our homes and devices more vulnerable and not all security systems are created equal. Here is what you need to know to keep your family and valuables safe.

How Wireless Works

Wireless security systems use radio frequency signals sent from your door or window sensors. Those sensors trigger an alarm if breached. According to a study done by two researchers, most systems do not encrypt or authenticate the signals sent from those sensors. That means a hacker could trigger false alarms or even block the signal, preventing the alarm from sounding and preventing the system from alerting fire or police officials. Some alarms come with anti-jamming measures, but hackers have found ways around those, too.

How to Protect Your Home

You really do get what you pay for in security. Inexpensive, DIY systems are vulnerable to hacking. Lyric Systems by Honeywell offers 128-bit encryption. It’s more expensive, but more secure. Any system you choose needs to have encrypted signals. Some alarm systems broadcast on multiple channels, making them tougher to jam. Ask your security team about these options. 

Another option is to install a wired system. Some security experts point out that thieves can cut the wires, but in some residences, the wires are difficult to access, making this a more useful approach.

Don’t buy a used system or used cameras. The previous owners may be thieves who retain access to those devices.

Change usernames and passwords. Anytime you buy an out-of-the box system, a new wireless router, or anything, you MUST change the username and password from the default. While this won’t necessarily prevent all hackers, you might as well make it a little tougher for them. As Forbes found, one security company mailed systems to people with the default login of username “admin” and password “admin.” Because those businesses never changed their login information, it was easy to guess and access their system.

If you have something to protect, such as valuable jewelry, electronics, or art, invest in a good security system installed by Secur-Tek. Our team can recommend a system that fits your security needs. 

Boost Your Network Signal!

Smart TV

First the laptop, then the smart phone, then the tablet, even the newer refrigerators, and now the smart TV. Technology and the Internet have become entwined with so much of our lives (and electronics). If you’re a smart TV owner, you can appreciate the beauty, the ease, the reach of your technologically savvy television. You can stream movies and videos, watch Netflix and YouTube, check your email, update your social media accounts, and surf the Web, all on a large screen. Convenient, easy on the eyes, crisp and clean clarity… unless you get the message that you cannot connect to the Internet.  However, a smart TV’s inability to connect to the Internet through a poor network signal, even though all our other wi-fi devices are connected, defeats the whole purpose of having one.

 

There are several reasons why your smart TV may fail to connect to the Internet or have a poor network signal.  Most homes with wi-fi can accommodate standard devices (smart phones, computers, laptops) getting online; but smart TVs require more bandwidth than your standard devices. And multiple devices drawing from the same network signal source could affect the speed of the signal. Other obstructions to your smart TV gaining access to the Internet can be metal objects or walls in the house.

 

Fear not. There is a solution. You can boost your signal strength using a range extender, which can extend the range of your wireless network by 10,000 feet by repeating and amplifying the signal. The increased strength not only allows you greater distance, eliminating those dead spots in your house, but also allows the wireless signal to penetrate walls and other obstructions.

 

With a range extender, your smart TV should have no trouble getting a signal; and, of course, once online, you’ll be able to take full advantage of all the wonderful features of the TV.

 

For more information on signal boosting, call Secur-Tek today at 919-387-1800.

Security & Home Automation