Current trends drive the adoption of emergency GSM lift phones. However, this process moves at different speeds throughout Europe, offering opportunities to learn from the different approaches and progression status.
Drivers of this transition
Back in the early 2000s, GSM lift phones received criticism from organisations and users due to poor 2G network coverage and mobile networks deregistering the SIM cards of inactive phones. However, times have changed. And with the evolution of technology, GSM solutions have emerged as the most complete lift phone technology on the market.
There are several reasons that the adoption of emergency GSM lift phones is being pushed forward more quickly, and these trends include the digital switch, the growing 2G and 4G signal coverage, signal rescan, and a few others. Let’s looks at each of these in detail.
With the evolution of technology, the world is moving away from a world of analogue phones towards a digital switch that favours digital devices. Effectively, this means that communications based on copper lines are slowly being replaced by fibre lines and therefore, there is a move from analogue signalling (typically DTMF tones/touch-tone) to digital data transmission.
The prioritisation of digital consumption throughout the world means that eventually, every country in the world will go through this transition as it replaces analogue transmission. The main benefit of moving to digital is that it favours the rapid transmission of large amounts of data (including voice).
This switchover means that phones with analogue copper lines will cease to function, and that fibre will become the de facto line of choice. Unfortunately, these lines aren’t suitable for emergency lift phones because they don’t carry power (copper lines carry a default 48V of current). In the event of a power cut, an emergency lift phone using a fibre connection will be unable to dial out, because the fibre line will fail.
Many organisations are now transitioning as solutions such as MEMCO by AVIRE’s GSM over fibre come with in-built battery backup power, so they can keep functioning even if there is a mains power failure, ensuring that passengers are always within reach of a lift technician.
Growing 2G and 4G Signal Coverage
Another important trend driving the adoption of GSM systems is the growth in 2G and 4G signal coverage. In the past, GSM solutions in Europe and the UK could only be used in a handful of locations due to a lack of 2G network coverage.
Fortunately, 2G, and in recent years 4G signal coverage has increased significantly over the last ten years, with mobile providers improving their 2G coverage rate across the countries’.
The growth in 2G and 4G coverage means that GSM technology can be used almost anywhere, with minimal instability. While there are still some highly-remote areas with no 2G coverage, you’re unlikely to encounter connectivity issues unless you’re installing a system in remote rural areas.
Low Cost of SIM Cards
As landline providers increase consumer prices by an average of $55 per year, many organisations have looked to GSM solutions to reduce costs. As a result, many organisations opt to buy SIM cards and install GSM solutions because they offer lower monthly costs than a commercial landline and deliver long-term cost savings.
The Creation of Signal Rescan
For years, mobile network deregistering has disrupted many GSM connections. Network carriers would often deregister the SIM cards of GSM phone systems due to inactivity, meaning that users had no protection during emergency incidents.
Now, next-generation systems created by providers like the MEMCO by AVIRE GSM are confronting deregistering head-on with signal rescan. With signal rescan, the GSM systems processor tells the system to periodically reconnect to the mobile network and find the best signal.
Rescanning the signal in this way prevents mobile carriers from deregistering the SIM, ensures that there’s always coverage available in emergency scenarios, and increases the overall reliability and consistency of the system.
Greater Monitoring Capabilities
Maintaining legacy lifts is a significant challenge due to the lack of visibility on the status of internal components. GSM solutions are addressing this issue by offering enterprises and venues greater remote monitoring capabilities.
For example, solution providers like MEMCO by AVIRE offer users a cloud-based solution called the AVIRE HUB, where technicians can remotely monitor the performance of the GSM-based lift phone, to verify that the device is operational and identify if there’s a malfunction.
Information that can be monitored includes:
- Battery status
- Door status
- Door cycles
- Operating conditions
Real-time monitoring is advantageous to ad-hoc maintenance because it allows you to spot malfunctions as soon as they begin with real-time text and email alerts. The moment an alert comes through, a maintenance operator can investigate further and attempt to fix the issue before there’s an outage that impacts a passenger.
Smart Lift Connectivity
As the concept of smart offices and workspaces becomes more popular, many organisations are looking at GSM solutions as the foundation of creating smart lifts as GSM phones are modular and can integrate with many other solutions.
An organisation can use the GSM phone as the central component and then add modular components as they see fit with fully customisable inputs and outputs. This flexibility opens the door to new smart lift capabilities.
Capabilities unlocked by GSM’s smart lift connectivity, include the ability to initiate test sequences and remotely monitor lift performance and maintenance. This is discussed in depth in our Smart elevators and smart buildings article.
Country by country review
Given all these reasons, Europe has already started the move to digital communications. Although each country is at different stages of the transition, they each have experienced a unique process for the implementation and reinforcement of the copper line network and thus the need for how the transition takes place varies based on their current conditions.
One of the countries that went first through the transition process was Switzerland. In fact, not only did they move to fibre but also completely shut down the 2G network at the same time, betting heavily on data transmission. In terms of the effect in the country, the approximately 20,000 lifts installed in the country chose as a general solution the implementation of a GSM to support the new setup.
In Germany, the switchover has also been almost completed with fibre as the main choice for new cable connections. GSMs have also become the preferred solution for lifts in Germany to ensure passengers remain protected.
UK and France
Both these countries have started rolling out fibre to replace their copper lines. In the UK, the process is expected to be completed by the end of 2025. With over 300,000 lifts in the country, a GSM digital solution is the recommended choice to ensure millions of passengers aren’t exposed to entrapments with unreliable emergency communications.
Meanwhile, in France, the transition is also well underway. The shutdown of copper lines started in 2021 and will continue over the next few years with an expectation of completing the transition process by 2030, by when all copper lines will be removed. The lift community has shifted towards GSM to maintain compliance.
In Spain, the transition hasn’t had such a dramatic effect on the installed lifts as over 90% of the existing lifts were already using a GSM to ensure secure connections. Due to the low cost of the SIM cards used in GSMs, the switch occurred organically rather due to exterior factors. You can find out more about the Spanish experience in this case study.
The situation in Scandinavia is quite interesting as there are vast differences in the transition process from one country to the next. For example, Finland has already completed the move to digital, having been fibre-based for several years already.
Both Denmark and Norway are currently going through their own transition process while Sweden has yet to start the move to fibre.
GSM: The Gold Standard for Lift Connectivity
The digital switch has already taken place in many countries, not only in Europe but across the world. Australia completed this process, driven by the government’s plan to transition onto a fibre network.
There is an expectation that the process will continue to expand beyond Europe as quick and reliable access to data is now the common denominator required for economic progress.
For information on MEMCO’s digital communication solutions to ensure your lifts remain safe after the before, during and after the digital switch, contact us today.