American Alarms Blog

Wireless communicators - GSM and CDMA

by Adam Jacobs 9/21/2022

Wireless communicators have been popular in the security market for many years.  In the last few years, with code changes and wider acceptance by AHJs, they have become much more popular with fire alarm customers also.  With more and more of these alarm communicators in the marketplace, it's important to understand what they do and what they don't.  The two formats for digital wireless communicators on the market are GSM and CDMA.

GSM = Global System for Mobile (communications)

CDMA = Code Division Multiple Access

Globally, GSM is the more widely-used standard with about 75% of the market share.  In the US, however, CDMA is the more dominant standard.  Some of the major carriers that use these standards:

GSM - Sprint, AT&T

CDMA - Verizon, US Cellular

We have tested and installed a number of both types of communicators.  We've found that CDMA communicators are the strongest signal with least number of communication failures.  Both technologies are getting better all the time, because of competition in the market and advancements in R&D.  

Some of the attraction for customers are the cost savings and flexibility of installation.  Instead of having two phone line charges and one alarm monitoring fee every month, the customer has just one alarm monitoring fee.  All network charges are handled through the monitoring company.

***NOTE: Not all jursidictions have approved the use of "sole path" wireless communicators.  Some areas may still require some form of backup path - POTS line, internet, or radio communicator.

These communicators are here to stay, and they're a good option for many customers.  Call us to find out more about the wireless options for alarm monitoring.


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Is Your Fire Alarm System Really Communicating?

by Adam Jacobs 9/21/2022

We recently discovered, through numerous tests, that most (if not all) of the newer modem (telephony/VOIP) phone lines are NOT redundant.  So even if you have two phone numbers, if one line is down they're BOTH down.  This is how the modem works.  It's assigning two different phone numbers, but they are communicating over the same "line".  So, if you have phone service that uses a modem and you are using them for your fire alarm be sure you ask the installing technician these two questions:

Is my modem programmed to fake analog phone lines? - this is the only way that the the fire alarm panel will recognize these lines

If one "line" isn't working, do I still have a backup "line" so that my fire alarm panel can communicate an alarm?

Telephony is fine, and it can save you money, but be sure you're not sacrificing your safety. 

CenturyLink is the only telephone service provider in our area that provides true analog phone lines that ALWAYS work with fire alarm communicators.  This isn't a plug for CentruyLink, is simply a fact that we've revealed through years of experience.


Research your telephone service.  You DON'T want your fire protection to be "phony".

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What does it mean to have your alarms monitored?

by Adam Jacobs 9/21/2022

There are literally hundreds of central stations that receive alarm signals in our country.  So what sets them apart?  How do you know yours has what it takes when it really matters?  The Monitoring Association (TMA) is the oldest and most reputable gauge of central station overall performance and customer satisfaction in the industry.

How many times has your central station won TMA's Central Station of the Year?  Ours won last year.

Does your central station have multiple locations hundreds of miles apart, so that weather cannot affect BOTH stations at once?  Ours does.

Does your central station have dual backup servers, generators, and an emergency recovery plan?  Ours does.

If you have fire alarms, does your central station truly understand the difference between fire and burglar alarms?  Many don't, but ours does.

Do you wait for 10, 15, 20 minutes or more just to talk with an operator?  You'll never wait more than a minute or two when calling ours.

Does your station have customer web applications and smart phone apps if that's what you choose?  Ours does.

Do you have the option to NOT get awakened in the middle of the night for trouble and supervisory signals?  Ours does.


We spent over a year to figure out exactly what we would want in a central station.  We are confident that our central station does the best job of any in the industry.

Come experience what REAL customer service and professional alarm monitoring feels like!


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HUGE cost savings when you consider wireless.

by Adam Jacobs 9/21/2022

Most of our customers have never considered a wireless fire alarm system.  And until a few months ago, they didn't really have a choice.  But last April, American Alarms became the sole designer/dealer of CWSI systems in Iowa.  We are EXTREMELY excited to partner with CWSI for these reasons...

- CWSI products are 100% made in the USA

- Their products have been put through the RINGER by UL, much more than wired systems.

- They have been perfecting wireless fire alarm systems since 1979.

- They ONLY make wireless fire alarm systems, so they're GOOD at it.


Attached is a cost analysis of a typical apartment complex (or any other multiple-building project).  A wired fire alarm system in a 36-plex apartment building with sounder bases and interior corridors can cost $50,000 or more with labor.  The CWSI system may only be HALF that, depending on total number of devices.  WHY?  Because it takes a LOT of time to plan all the cable routes, pull cable to every room, to wire bases, to wire the panel, etc.


BUT, on top of that, there's ALSO a huge recurring savings on telephone lines, monitoring accounts, service to wiring and ground faults, lightning problems, and on and on.  Download the PDF attached here, to get an idea of how much you can save on a multi-building project.  Then call us!


Savings on Monitoring with CWSI.pdf (119.28 kb)

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