What's up with ATM wireless service?
by Jon Weilbaker, General Manager, NewYorkATM.com
Since their introduction in 2005, wireless modems have revolutionized the ATM business, enabling mobility, freedom from wired lines and greater reliability. Those original modems were dial-up only, sold by companies like DPL Hercules, Contour and JBL.
While most new modems are now IP, most ATM operators still have the same plug-and-play mentality about their wireless modems: Most likely, they don't know who their carrier is or what network their modems are running on. And most ATM operators are not taking advantage of their provider's sophisticated web portal tools.
So what should an IAD do?
Take an inventory of your current wireless modems in the field and start upgrading them to new 4G LTE devices within the next year or so.
A wireless modem is only as good as its network coverage. Forward-thinking IADs will ask their current wireless provider what carrier and network their modems are using. They'll also ask what the provider's plan is for upgrading their hardware to 4G LTE and what that means for the IAD.
Create a master list of your modems by physical location, and use this inventorying process to eliminate unnecessary wireless modems that can be replaced by connecting the ATM to the merchant's internet service.
Identify unused and nonworking modems that can be returned or cancelled. The majority of the ATM wireless modems currently in the field are either 2G or 3G.
ATM owners are already starting to experience issues with their 2G modems, especially in rural areas, as telecoms continue to upgrade and transition their cell towers to 4G LTE service. Issues with 3G modems are probably not far behind.
Verizon is now encouraging software developers and hardware manufacturers to use its new 4G LTE Cat M network, which was built for Internet of Things markets and machine-to-machine use.
Realize that it's not all about the monthly data cost any more.
The big three (OptConnect, DPL and Wireless ATM Store) all have web portals designed to make the IAD's fleet management easier.
Features vary by provider but portals can allow users to remotely reboot ATMs, check signal strength, and see the terminal ID number that the modem is communicating from.
Savvy buyers will compare the features and cost (if any) of the provider's web portals before signing up.
Tap into new wireless products and functionality to stop ATM theft, and do more transactions at events.
This year DPL will be offering an upgraded version of their ATM Protector product with a separate GPS tracking device that sends the ATM operator texts or emails when the ATM is tilted, or the door is opened. Even without power, it can send a GPS signal for days to help track down a stolen ATM.
OptConnect will continue to promote Event Pulse, a feature that can give its wireless modems priority on a specific cell tower for several days to ensure continuous transactions for event operators.
Figure out if it makes more sense for your business to lease versus buy when shopping for new wireless modems.
The largest ATM wireless provider in the U.S., OptConnect, continues to offer only a monthly lease option with a two-year commitment.
Competitors DPL and Wireless ATM Store only offer an option to purchase the modem with a monthly fee. But don't think that just because you own the modem that you can switch the service; their modems are "locked" like the cell phones that you buy from most carriers.
Don't forget to ask about tech support and warranty coverage.
Constant firmware updates that keep modems in sync with ATM processors are more important today than ever before.
In addition, as new products such as direct currency conversion and bitcoin transaction capability are rolled out, it is critical that your wireless modem can handle the new functionality.
And before you choose a wireless provider, make sure that the hours for their live tech support fit your busy schedule.
Ask your wireless provider about the warranty coverage on their modems: How long is it and do they offer an immediate replacement option?
Systech's manufacturer warranty is for five years, but you have to send your defective box to them at your cost and it will take six to eight weeks to get a new one. A good wireless provider will handle your claim with an immediate replacement.
There you have it.
The ATM wireless modem is not just a dumb black box anymore.
Get to know its features and functionality and it can help you become a better ATM operator.
Talk to different providers about wireless programs that can save you headaches and money in the long run, and help you grow your business.