Does 5G represent the future of intruder alarms and security systems?

With 2G and 3G slowly being phased out worldwide, everybody is looking ahead to the fifth generation of wireless communication. 5G is here and it’s not just having an impact on the mobile phone trade.

Indeed, the potential for 5G is almost limitless and stretches across industries. It is even set to have a monumental impact on intruder alarm technology.

Communication

Any alarm system relies on communication to work – the communication between the control panels, sensors, the alarm itself, and the authorities. The more versatile, fast, and secure those lines of communication, the better the alarm.

In the intruder alarm sector, it’s undeniable that adoption has been slow when it comes to new technology, at least historically. Indeed, 4G has been widely available since 2009 but it’s only recently that alarm systems have started utilising it.

There has been in recent years, however, a major shift in how much data needs to be processed by an alarm, largely thanks to the rise of the internet of things and connected tech. This necessitates stronger, stabler connections and that’s exactly what 5G has to offer.

How does it work?

4G boasted speeds around 500 times faster than 3G, the previous generation of mobile connectivity. 5G, meanwhile, is said to be 100 times faster than that. That’s significantly faster than even the fastest fibre-optic broadband currently available in the UK.

The latency is dramatically reduced as a result, meaning that for intruder alarms utilising the technology, there will be almost zero latency between the intruder being detected and the alarm being sounded.

Traditionally, alarm systems relied on PSTN and General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) communication, but with more modern security systems now utilising high definition video streaming and IoT sensors, more dependable and powerful communication technology is required. IP-based networks are necessary in a world of 4K video and when it comes to IP-based communications networks, 5G is the pinnacle.

Too much too soon?

Of course, we might be getting ahead of ourselves, as even 4G signal is not as widespread in the UK as it could be and it will likely be many years before 5G is standardised in the country.

Devices equipped with 5G chipsets are also going to be significantly more expensive and that’s before you even mention the deployment costs. It’s unlikely that many end-users will also be able to see immediate improvements and will, therefore, be unlikely to spend that much more to achieve the 5G benefits.

Indeed, alarms generally use a relatively small amount of bandwidth compared to things such as self-driving cars. According to Tom Mechler, regional marketing manager for Bosch Security and Safety Systems: “Where it will make a difference is the transmission of video – especially in regards to alarm verification, remote video monitoring, and the ability to push video to hand-held devices.”

So, essentially, the alarm industry doesn’t need 5G but it will benefit from it. Eventually. Generally speaking, 5G will certainly revolutionise intruder alarms and security systems, but that revolution is likely to be limited to the very wealthy for the foreseeable future.

It’s a case, right now, of opportunity versus need, but give it a few years (or maybe a decade) and we predict that 5G will be able to offer much more efficient and capable intruder detection systems.