SIM card free access

April 2011 News, Access Control & Identity Management, Perimeter Security, Alarms & Intruder Detection

Local manufacturer, Comb Communications, based in Gauteng, produces cellular-based intercom systems for

multi-unit complexes and estates. More than merely providing hardware, Comb also makes it easy for body corporates to manage the systems with its Web-based management console.

A problem experienced by many owners of GSM intercoms is that South Africa’s thriving criminal population is targeting SIM cards from many utilities, access control companies, municipalities and companies that use the GSM networks and SMS messaging technology to monitor and control remote devices. This leaves businesses and residential complexes with no access control until another card is bought and often can leave the intercom system damaged.

To counter this threat, Comb is in the final stages of testing a new GSM intercom system, the Mk II that offers the same access and management functionality without a SIM card.

The MK II makes use of SIM chip technology. The SIM looks like an integrated circuit and is soldered to a circuit board. This means it cannot be removed.

Covering all bases

The Mk II will still retain a SIM card slot as well as the chip, however. Comb’s Trevor Heyl explains that SIM chips are slightly behind the times as once a chip is installed it is tied to one service provider, as the other providers have not yet released chips to market.

This chip lock-in is being discussed by GSM standards bodies which have agreed that it is not in the best interests of customers. Heyl expects to see some changes internationally in the future, but it will be some time before we see any changes in service provider behaviour in South Africa.

Another trick to thwart criminals Comb is working on is linking SIM cards to the modem’s IMEI (international mobile equipment identity) number. This will see the SIM card unable to operate if it is stolen and inserted into another phone.

The Mk II has already received rave reviews in its testing and pilot phases and Comb expects to see it released to market in the second quarter of this year.

For more information contact Comb Communications, +27 (0)83 647 2355, [email protected]

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