Things to Know About GSM Cellular Service

Things to Know About GSM Cellular Service

Things to Know About GSM Cellular Service

Recently we've had some great questions from curious customers about how cellular phone service works, what it is, and how our security systems can make use of it. We have compiled some helpful information here to give you some insight into the answers to some of the most common questions.

What is a SIM card?

SIM is an acronym that stands for ""Subscriber Identity Module."" A SIM card is a small card or chip with electronics built-in that carry certain information. A SIM card allows a device to be identified, and to communicate over cellular towers.

All cellular phones have a SIM card inside, whether or not that SIM card can be removed. For example, iPhones have built-in SIM cards that cannot be removed, but Android phones typically have removable / swappable SIM cards.

When a phone number is generated and assigned to you, the phone number is tied to the SIM card. If you swap out the SIM card in your mobile device, it will have a different phone number.

SIM cards also must be activated in order to work. The billing and the service plan will vary, depending on who your cellular provider is. Some plans may have unlimited minutes, while others have pre-paid minutes, and others still have pay-as-you-go plans.

Minutes are often broken down and billed according to type. For example, a phone call would use ""talk"" minutes, while a text message may use ""text"" minutes. In addition to ""talk"" and ""text,"" many service plans will now also include ""mobile data,"" which is Internet access over a cell phone tower. Mobile data is typically measured in megabytes (MB), rather than minutes.

Some of the security systems that we offer have a SIM card slot, where our customers can insert a SIM card, activate it, and then start using the system. With an active SIM card inserted, the security system essentially becomes a cellular phone. It connects to a nearby cell phone tower, and it's able to make / receive calls and text messages. (At the time of this writing, we don't have any security systems that use or require any mobile data.)

Fortress Security Store offers our customers a free SIM card with the purchase of any main panel that has a SIM card slot. When customers receive their system, they can then come to our website and activate cellular service directly through Fortress. If you ever lose a SIM card, or need another one for any reason (other than a warranty replacement), we also offer additional SIM cards available for purchase.

What is GSM? What is CDMA?

There are two major competing technologies when it comes to SIM cards and cellular service: Global System for Mobile (GSM), and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). 

There has been some confusion around these terms in the industry, and depending on where you live, you might have heard these two terms described differently. Part of this confusion stems from the fact that, outside the US there are very few, if any, CDMA cellular providers. If you get a SIM card in a different country, it's almost definitely a GSM SIM card.

Popular GSM providers in the US include companies like AT&T and T-Mobile. Popular CDMA providers in the US include companies like Sprint and Verizon. Some providers may even offer both GSM and CDMA service.

Security systems from Fortress Security Store currently all use GSM cellular service, and are not compatible with CDMA cellular technology (at the time of this writing).

What are 2G, 3G, and 4G?

2G, 3G, and 4G are all different ""generations"" of the same technology. Mostly, this refers to the speed of the mobile data that can be delivered to the mobile device.

Even though Fortress security systems don't use mobile data (see above), we mention this only because some providers have started to retire 2G service, and are now only offering 3G and above. This was important because one of our previous legacy security systems was only compatible with 2G cellular towers, and not with 3G or above.

All of the security systems that we currently sell on our website (and which have the capability to use SIM cards) are compatible with 3G cellular service.

The previous system which was only 2G-compatible was called the ""GSM Security System"" (which also caused a little confusion). We have now stopped selling the GSM Security System on our website, and we replaced it with our Vea 3G/4G GSM Security System.

Some providers, such as T-Mobile, still have 2G cell towers available. However, AT&T is one popular provider that no longer offers 2G service.

Why should I use a SIM card in my Fortress security system?

When customers activate a SIM card and use them with our security systems, the security system becomes a cell phone. It is then able to call one or more phone numbers which you specify to alert you that your alarm has been triggered. The security systems also have the ability to send text messages for certain events.

Note that land line phones cannot handle text messages. If your security system sends a text message to a land line, that text message would not be received.

When you have a Fortress security system with an active SIM card, you can also call or text the system from any phone, and there are some features that allow you to control the system remotely. More details about the features available for each system can be found in the corresponding User Manuals.

We have designed the Fortress SIM Card Service to be a perfect fit for customers who are using these SIM cards in their Fortress security systems. For just $7.99 per month (with a one-time activation fee of $9.99), SIM cards are pre-loaded with 100 minutes per month, and the service automatically renews every month to make sure that there are no gaps in coverage. If you use up more than 100 minutes in a month, additional ""overage minutes"" are billed at a rate of $0.08 per minute.

Fortress SIM Card Service partners with both AT&T and T-Mobile, so that we can offer service for 2G, 3G, and 4G devices. Additionally, if you're in an area with poor coverage on one provider, we can offer to send you a SIM card for the other provider. Fortress SIM Card Service is only for US customers who are within the coverage area.

More information about SIM Card Service from Fortress Security Store can be found here.

Well, that was a lot to digest!

We know that this can be a lot of information to learn and understand. We hope this blog post has helped you answer any questions that you may have had about cellular phone service, and how it works with our Fortress security systems. If you still have any other questions, you can feel free to contact one of our friendly Support Representatives directly!