What is a SIM card and how is it used with my Fortress alarm system?

Some Fortress alarm systems are GSM-capable, which means they have the ability to make and receive calls and text messages over the GSM cellular phone network. In order for the alarm system to connect to the cellular network, a device known as a SIM card must be inserted into the alarm system main panel, and activated with service.

All customers who purchase a new GSM-Compatible system today will also receive a New-Style SIM Card. Here's more information about "New-Style" vs. "Old-Style" SIM Cards.

Fortress GSM-Compatible Systems
Purchase and Activate Your Fortress SIM Card Now!
Minutes Usage
Coverage Maps
Troubleshooting SIM Card Issues
Third-Party SIM Cards


Fortress GSM-Compatible Systems:

Total Security WiFi System
Vea 3G/4G GSM Security System

Purchase and Activate Your Fortress SIM Card Now!

Activate your Fortress SIM card
(new systems come with SIM cards included)

Activate a New-Style SIM Card with the last 6 characters (last 5 numbers + last letter) under the bar code.

Activate an Old-Style SIM Card using the Act Fast Code.

Purchase a SIM card from Fortress 
(for any existing customers who don't already have a Fortress SIM card)


We have two styles of SIM cards, and the billing for each have some small differences. For both SIM cards, the rate is $7.99 per month.

Here is a description of the "New-Style" vs. "Old-Style" SIM Cards

New-Style SIM Card Pricing - no "Act Fast Code"

The charge for this service is $7.99 per month, billed in advance, on the 10th of every month. There's also a one-time activation fee of $9.99.

The first charge for the service is collected on the date of activation, so we also apply pro-rated minutes for the partial month of service if you sign up on a date other than the 10th ($0.08 per minute).

100 minutes are pre-loaded onto the SIM card on the 10th of every month. If more than 100 minutes are used in a billing period, then Overage Minutes will begin accruing. Minutes do not roll over from one billing period to the next.

Overage Minutes are billed in increments of 100. If your total of Overage Minutes in a certain billing period reaches 100, then a charge of $7.99 will be charged to your credit card at that time. Any Overage Minutes remaining at the end of a billing period will be charged on the regular billing date of the 10th, at a rate of $0.08 per minute.

You may cancel service at any time by contacting our Support team directly. The SIM card would stop working immedately after the cancellation is processed. Unused minutes are not refundable.

Old-Style SIM Card Pricing - with "Act Fast Code"

The charge for this service is $7.99 per month, billed in advance, in 3-month increments. There is also a one-time activation fee of $9.99.

If the SIM card runs out of available minutes before the 90-day billing cycle is over, then the card will be automatically reloaded with another 200 minutes at that time, and the new 90-day billing cycle will begin on the date the card was reloaded. Your credit card will be charged at that time, as well.

You may cancel service at any time by contacting our Support team directly. The SIM card would continue to function until the end of that 90-day billing period, or until all remaining minutes on the card were used, whichever happens first. Unused minutes are not refundable.

Minutes Usage

When sitting idle, and nothing is happening, the system is not using any minutes on the SIM card.

The following actions would use minutes on the SIM card as detailed (call times are rounded up to the nearest full minute):

Outbound calls from the main panel

When the alarm is triggered, the main panel will call outbound to each phone number in the list. If the first caller answers and responds to the alarm, then no further calls will be made. However, if the alarm is unanswered, the system will call every number in the list a total of 3 times.

For example, if a system has 6 phone numbers programmed, and the alarm is triggered but no one answers, the system would make a total of 18 outbound phone calls. These calls would use minutes for as long as the calls were active.

Outbound text messages from the main panel (1 text = 1 minute)

The panel can also optionally text one or more phones in the event of an alarm, but also for other events (such as whenever the system is armed or disarmed, or if the power goes out, or etc.)

Each text message sent by the panel is equivalent to 1 minute. If you have multiple phone numbers set to receive text messages, then the panel will send multiple text messages (one for each recipient).

Inbound calls to the main panel from any phone

When you call in to control the system over the phone, that phone call is using minutes on the SIM card equivalent to the length of the call.

Inbound texts to the main panel (1 text = 1 minute)

When you send a text message to the main panel, that uses 1 minute on the SIM card.

Total Security - Using the Mobile App to control the system

(NOTE: This does not apply when using the Total Security WiFi system and the WiFi connection - this only applies when you have the Total Security system (not WiFi enabled), or when you are using the "GSM" portion of the WiFi app.)

Commands sent through the free mobile app actually send a text message to the main panel. Pressing the "Disarm" button on the app, for example, sends a text message to the main panel with instructions to disarm the system. 1 command sent = 1 text = 1 minute

Coverage Maps

Coverage map for New-Style SIM Card

Coverage map for Old-Style SIM Card


Troubleshooting SIM Card Issues

  • SIM Cards from Fortress are covered by our 3-year warranty,
  • If you did not receive your confirmation email with your SIM card's new phone number, please check your email inbox's Spam or Junk Mail folders for the email. If it also not there, you can also try programming your own cell phone number into the alarm, and then triggering the alarm to call you. The number that shows up on your cell phone's Caller ID is the phone number for your alarm. If this does not work for any reason, you can also contact our Support team directly and we'lll be happy to look up the phone number for your SIM card.
  • Please note that the SIM card service is usually activated within 2 hours, but may take up to 24 hours before a signal is found.
  • Power cycle the main panel.
    Turn off the panel's power switch, and unplug the power cable.
    Wait 30 seconds with the main panel completely powered down.
    Plug the power cable back in, and then turn the panel's power switch back on.
  • Check our service area coverage map (above) to confirm that you are within the service area. (Fortress service uses the same cellular towers as AT&T)
  • Once the SIM card connects for the first time, it will then be able to find signal on other towers, as well. If you are unable to find signal at your home or business, you can try taking the panel to another location, allowing it to find service, and then taking it back to the location where it will be installed to see if it's able to locate service there.
  • If you place an inbound call to the SIM card's phone number and receive a message saying that "the voicemail box has not been set up yet," this indicates that the cellular tower is not able to locate the SIM card. You may need to relocate the panel to another place to get better signal reception, such as near a window. You can also try using a third-party cellular signal booster.
  • Check the screen of the panel.
    (For Total Security)
    If the panel says "Searching..." then the SIM card has been inserted correctly, and the SIM is now searching for a cellular tower. It may take a few minutes to locate a cellular tower. 
    You can also purchase a third-party cellular signal booster and place it on site near the main panel. In some cases, this can help signal reception.
    If the panel says "No SIM" then the SIM card has not been inserted correctly and needs to be re-seated.
    (For GSM)
    If the panel shows the icon of a SIM card with an X, then the SIM card has not been inserted correctly, and needs to be re-seated.
    Once that icon no longer appears, then the SIM card has been inserted correctly, and it should be able to make and receive calls within a few minutes (once it locates a cellular tower). You can also install a third-party antenna. In some cases, this can help signal reception.
    (Note that there is a known issue with the GSM system in which it does not always display the bars of service correctly.)

If these steps and recommendations do not help resolve the issue, please contact our Support team directly.


Third-Party SIM Cards

The systems are also compatible with third-party SIM cards. Please note that third-party SIM cards are not supported by Fortress, and not covered under the Fortress warranty. Any troubleshooting issues related to the SIM card or phone service should be addressed with the provider of the SIM card. To use a third-party SIM card, you should confirm the following requirements:

GSM compatible (CDMA SIM cards are NOT compatible)

Legacy GSM Alarm System - 2G cellular signals only
Frequencies: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz

Legacy Vea GSM System - 2G and 3G cellular signals
Frequencies: 850/1900 MHz

Total Security System - 2G and 3G cellular signals
Frequencies: 850/1900 MHz

S6 Titan Security System - 2G and 3G cellular signals
Frequencies: 850/1900 MHz

The SIM card must be active and in good standing, with minutes available.
The systems use talk time and text messages, but no data plan is required.

A contract plan is not required for a SIM card to be used in the alarm system. You can purchase a pay-as-you-go or prepaid SIM card billing plan from most SIM card providers, which will be solely for your alarm system. You do not need to use your existing cellular plan to purchase service for your alarm system.