ATM Deployers Moving Towards Wireless Connectivity


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ATM Deployers Moving Towards Wireless Connectivity

  1. 1. Special report By Steve Arel Contributing writer, ATM Deployers Moving Toward Wireless Connectivity Sponsored by: A growing number of companies are finding that wireless technology provides advantages that benefit both them and their customers, as well as better position them for the future.S The emergence of wireless tay connected. Cell phone companies use those words to woo people away technology from landlines. Likewise, the ATMindustry wants consumers to “cut the cord” Wireless technology has been aroundas it tries to make wireless technology in other industries for some time. Butmore common. in the ATM world, wireless is a relative newcomer.Several information technology firms,led in part by innovation from Australia- No specific figures exist for the actualbased Symstream Technology Group, number of ATMs in the world that useare promoting wireless communication wireless connectivity. However, industrysolutions that promise faster ATM experts say the total number of wirelesstransactions, fewer dropped calls, greater units lags far behind the number of ATMsflexibility and higher customer satisfaction. operating on traditional landlines.The switch to wireless has less to do withboosting business and improving the But the gap is closing.bottom line than it does with the simplefact that wireless works.So it’s no wonder that a growing numberof companies in the ATM industry arecapitalizing on technology that helps themmeet consumers’ needs more quickly.Despite the numerous advantages, fromcost-effectiveness to easy upgrades toreliability, not every company has beenquick to embrace wireless. Still, plenty ofothers are willing to invest now, bankingon a future of ATM operations untethered Symstream solutions are carried in various types of modems, including this one produced by MultiTech.from wired connections.© 2010 NetWorld Alliance LLC | Sponsored by Symstream Technology Group 1
  2. 2. atM Deployers Moving toward Wireless connectivityGrowth in wireless technology continues Carriers are moving toward wirelessin urban areas, but the most significant infrastructure [because the alternative is]leaps are seen in rural areas and a waste of time and money.”developing nations where few or notelecommunications infrastructures exist. — Mark Gamon, director of strategy and international development, Symstream.“The cost of a landline is high and aconnection may not be available in allof the locations where a bank may want current communications infrastructuresto put an ATM due to accessibility,” said work, ATM deployers are reluctant toManjunath Rao, regional services sales tear them down or replace them withdirector with Duluth, Ga.-based NCR wireless options. Why fix something thatCorp. isn’t broken? For the average operator or deployer, the expense of reconfiguring orIn the past, rural areas were not prime retrofitting thousands of ATMs outweighslocations for ATM installations. Exorbitant the need to switch.costs and logistical challenges associatedwith laying and accessing landlines had The emergence of wireless connectionsmade connecting ATMs to networks cost began to flourish several years ago.prohibitive. Speeding this development has been the inception of advanced wireless networks.The situation is different today. Systems such as local and metropolitan area networks, code division multipleThrough wireless networks, ATMs can access (CDMA), general packet radioconnect to hubs around the world. service (GPRS) and satellites have opened up a multitude of possibilities.“Not even emerging markets are puttingcable in the ground,” said Mark Gamon, Perhaps the most significant network thatdirector of strategy and international is furthering wireless communicationsdevelopment for Symstream. “Carriers within the ATM industry is the globalare moving toward wireless infrastructure system for mobile communications, or[because the alternative is] a waste of time GSM, which has become an internationaland money.” mobile phone standard. In use in more than 200 countries, GSM enables greaterExisting infrastructures in developed parts network capacity and increased efficiencyof the world, coupled with the introduction for sending voice and data transmissions.of wireless connectivity, are allowing For the ATM industry, the third generationdeveloping nations to join the ATM of GSM — commonly known as 3G — hasrace — and in many ways to leap past the proven to be the best choice for quickertechnology of ATM-using giants such as transmission of data.the United States, the United Kingdom andAustralia. “Through every optimization, there was a big jump in bandwidth and the ability toThe reason: Landlines are restrictive support more applications over wireless,”and expensive, but they’re too intricate said Natasha Royer Coons, president andand well-established to eliminate. Since managing director of San Diego-based© 2010 NetWorld Alliance LLC | Sponsored by Symstream Technology Group 2
  3. 3. atM Deployers Moving toward Wireless connectivityTeraNova Consulting, a telecom consultingfirm. “Before, we were limited with whatwe could send.”Advantages of shifting to wirelessTime is money in the business world,including the ATM industry. Whether thesituation calls for deploying units, handlingproblems or completing transactions morequickly, speed succeeds.Traditional ATMs are tethered to banks Installing wireless cards, such as the one seen above, allows ATMs to break from traditional hardwires.or other buildings by hardwires — powercords and phone lines. That setup requirescompany personnel to regularly checkthe machines for potential problems; even for serial-connected ATMs.otherwise, a unit could run out of moneyor paper or experience other problems that “The technology provides a secure dataa business might not learn about unless a transaction,” Gamon said, “and since GSMcustomer complained. voice-channel resources are not shared, the reserved bandwidth makes performanceWireless technology bypasses many of more consistent. This is not the case withthose traditional problems. For starters, GPRS, which suffers from congestionand perhaps most significantly, wireless- problems at busy times.”enabled equipment only requires a powercord. That allows for easy deployment at What also separates Symstream’s solutionbanks and at remote sites. from others is that unlike messages sent over data channels, data is transmittedA router inside the ATM transmits over voice channels. On the 3G network,data faster than an anchored line can. voice channels take priority over dataTransactions, however, can be speeded channels. Data messages receive lowerup, depending on the solution used. priority even on other wireless networks,Transactions on a dial-up network can take meaning they can be delayed while voiceas long as 20 seconds to process. That’s transmissions are sent, depending on thebecause connections must dial into their number of voice calls being transmittedhubs after users swipe or insert their cards. at the same time as the data message orOn the contrary, using 3G processing takes messages.six seconds or less, Gamon says. Most ATM users don’t know or care what“That’s particularly important if you want kind of connection ATMs use, Gamonto move people through as quickly as says, but wireless makes a considerablepossible,” he said. difference where transaction speed is concerned.Symstream says its solution is uniquebecause it adds a layer of strong encryption Wireless technology also allows for© 2010 NetWorld Alliance LLC | Sponsored by Symstream Technology Group 3
  4. 4. atM Deployers Moving toward Wireless connectivityflexibility. An ATM using a wireless around the world forbid work on historicconnection easily can be moved from one structures that could threaten to mar theend of a store to another or be deployed in interior and/or the unlikely place, such as on a pier, trainor boat. When it comes to moving wiredATMs, there always is a significant cost Management from afarinvolved, those in the industry say. Symstream is among those companies that have made an impact through wirelessWireless also enables portability, which solutions that allow machine owners tocan be critical when it comes to setting oversee their equipment from a distance.up equipment at special events such as For companies such as Customersconcerts or fairs, where running a landline ATM, which has ATMs deployed acrossdoesn’t make much sense. Australia, such solutions eliminate the need to have someone physically checkInstallation and time-to-market speed each machine for maintenance.are other considerations. A wireless ATMcan be deployed in one day; deploying “We can’t afford to fly people to lookhardwired ATMs often takes weeks. after these machines,” Wildash said. “We have to have a simple machine and“I can get an ATM out the afternoon a wireless technology. They have to managecustomer orders it,” said Tim Wildash, themselves.”managing director for Customers ATM, anindependent ATM deployer in Australia. Remote management allows operators“Otherwise, we have to wait for hardwire, to read the heartbeat of their equipment.running lines down buildings and having Programs provide real-time reports,to dig out busy driveways to get lines showing which machines are functioningboosted. To get it done properly, we have properly and which ones have encounteredto pay a premium service.” an issue, such as running out of money or paper, an electrical problem or anotherSuch delays don’t always sit well with type of malfunction.clients, whose business hinges on quickdeployments. Customers ATM, which has Software programs continually produceworked with Symstream for more than reports that show activity on eachfour years on its wireless connectivity machine, such as transaction time andsolution, has some machines that conduct success rate. The same programs also allowas many as 14,000 transactions a month. operators to wirelessly and remotely install patches for security protections, download“Delays upset the client,” Wildash said. technology upgrades and change graphics“With wireless, you get the job done and on the ATM screens.passed over to operations.”When installing new ATMs, some building Working toward changeowners aren’t inclined to allow drilling inwalls and floors for the sake of installing Customers ATM, which operates 5,500lines. Also, regulations in many cities ATMs, is focusing on the future — a future it sees as free of wired service.© 2010 NetWorld Alliance LLC | Sponsored by Symstream Technology Group 4
  5. 5. atM Deployers Moving toward Wireless connectivityIn a move some in the ATM industry to sell banks and ATM manufacturersmight consider unusual — including some on the potential of wireless technology.within the company — Customers ATM His pitch has met with success, asplans to shift most of its ATM network evidenced by several businesses switchingto wireless connectivity. A number of its from traditional hardwires and somenewer machines come equipped with manufacturers producing wireless-readythe technology, Wildash says. The others machines.are being reconfigured, with roughly 150retrofitted ATMs being reintroduced Symstream has forged relationshipseach week. Thanks to the simplicity of the with companies such as MultiTech toSymstream solution, such a significant have itssolution installed in MultiTech’srollout of machines is easily handled. modems and with NCR to have the Symstream-enabled modems installed inWildash estimates he saves almost $1,000 ATMs.over a machine’s lifespan by moving fromhardwire to wireless. He bases that number Gamon says there has been overwhelmingon a comparison of the cost of a wireless- interest in wireless and a realization thatequipped unit with that of a landline wireless represents the future of ATMmachine, which involves in-store dial-up transactions.costs, administrative time to install theunit, transactions lost while waiting for the As the technology advances, so too will theinstallation and the inability to upgrade capabilities of ATMs. Some in the industryATMs in fixed positions. anticipate units being used for paying bills and other transactions. In addition, globalCustomers ATM also makes up ground positioning systems could be installedfinancially when it comes to retrofitted to track machines that may have beenunits, since its communications fees are repositioned or stolen.cut in half when ATMs are retrofitted forwireless connectivity, Wildash says. The bottom line, several agree, is the industry as a whole must first overcome“If you have a good transmitter and its trepidation toward wireless solutions,receiver, we can go anywhere,” he said. “It some of which stems from uncertaintydoes everything else the others do. It’s a about security. But experts expressbetter deal for us.” confidence in security measures, with encryption techniques complying with tough international standards andGetting more on board rendering a hacker’s ability to crack codes nearly impossible.Gamon has spent much of the last severalyears making presentations in an effort Experts express confidence in security measures, with encryption techniques complying with tough international standards and rendering a hacker’s ability to crack codes nearly impossible.© 2010 NetWorld Alliance LLC | Sponsored by Symstream Technology Group 5
  6. 6. atM Deployers Moving toward Wireless connectivityCoons suggests companies deployingATMs assemble teams to oversee theirwireless future and conversion, attaincertifications for networking and conducttrials.“When we present the differences[between wireless and hardwirecapabilities], companies are pretty excited,”Gamon said. “But it’s the biggest risk-averse industry and a slow adopter of newtechnology — but we’re starting to rightthe curve.”About the sponsor: Symstream TechnologyGroup is a technology company that focuses onproviding wireless communications solutions.Symstream emphasizes data-transmissionmethods based on international mobile/wireless standards for public wireless networks.Symstream works in financial transactions,and its customers include international andnational banks.© 2010 NetWorld Alliance LLC | Sponsored by Symstream Technology Group 6