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Saturday, August 13, 2022

Alarm and security services are caught in the middle of the race to 5G technology adoption

It is possible that AT&T’s multibillion-dollar deployment of superfast 5G wireless technology may be delayed as a result of Melissa Brinkman’s problems.

In her role as chief executive of Custom Alarm, Ms. Brinkman oversees the installation and monitoring of residential and business security systems, fire detectors, and personal emergency alert devices in and around Rochester, Minnesota.

That particular generation of wireless alarm systems was intended to communicate primarily utilising slower 3G wireless technology. AT&T stated in early 2019 that it will phase down 3G wireless service in February 2022, which would imply that the devices would no longer be able to connect after that date. When the pandemic lockdown started in March 2020, Ms. Brinkman’s technicians were in the process of upgrading the outdated equipment one site at a time.

By the beginning of this year, Covid-19’s worries had subsided, and individuals were more ready to let her employees inside their homes. However, as a result of chip shortages in the alarm business, new equipment became more difficult to come by.

Now, Ms. Brinkman said, “we have this Delta variation on our hands.” “Unfortunately, we’re running into difficulties once again.”

There are many businesses that face the same challenges as the Minnesota company, whose products and services rely on wireless technology. These products and services range from emergency alert pendants and home medical devices to crash-prevention systems in automobiles and ankle bracelets that monitor felons.

Covid and chip shortages have resulted in inconveniences and increased expenses for these companies. However, the more pressing worry is that if they are unable to update their equipment before the 3G network is decommissioned, certain life safety and emergency alert systems may cease to function.

Previous phase-outs of cellular technology, including the most recent 2G phase-out in 2017, proceeded without a hitch. The usage of wireless gadgets of all sorts is gradually growing, and this is something that is new this time around, in addition to the interruptions caused by the epidemic.

The alarm industry’s trade organisation filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission in May, urging the agency to intervene and force AT&T to delay its 3G sunset date by 10 months, until the end of 2022, to give companies more time to replace outdated equipment.

The year-end 2022 deadline would be consistent with the plans of Verizon, the other major cellular carrier serving the alarm sector.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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