Roundtable: The Benefits of Wireless Access Control

Aug. 2, 2017
Two factors have increased the importance of wireless technology in the security field: ease of installation and the public's desire to use smartphones as a credential

Wireless technology has perhaps had the biggest impact on security electronics as any other technology introduced in the last 50 years.

It has also been observed that the impact was also due to the overall transformation of electronics in a relatively short span of time. There have been many breakthroughs, and the security industry is quick to adapt and elaborate on breakthroughs.

Other developments which come to mind which leveraged these breakthroughs include:

  • Better battery technologies
  • Miniaturization of circuitry
  • Mobile electronics (for example low current draw CPUs and circuitry)
  • Wi-fi & IP network technologies
  • Proprietary network and transmission technologies such as Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-wave and NFC as examples.

Wireless technology applications which have made a difference include:

  • Wireless data transmission (example: credential to reader)
  • Wireless inter-system communications (example: door controller to hub)
  • Wireless control (example: remote wireless lock activation)
  • Alarm monitoring/reporting
  • Credentials
  • Smart phone access credentials (NFC; Bluetooth)
  • Smartphone apps
  • Standalone access controls
  • Wireless IP cameras

Every security market segment has its own set of requirements for how wireless achieves the desired functions, and every market segment has an assortment of products which exploit the technologies to keep their offerings cutting edge and competitive.

Locksmith Ledger asked this question to several security industry experts: “What’s the role of wireless in security?”

The responses reveal their own role in the security industry, the technologies important to their own product group but also reflect their consciousness of the landscape of the security industry as it applies to wireless.

Commercial Locksmith

A locksmith and regular reader of The Locksmith Ledger (who chose to remain anonymous) responded to the question:

Two factors have increased the importance of wireless technology in the security field: public expectations and ease of installation. During the last decade the public has moved almost entirely from using land-based phones to cell phones.  Today people use their cell phones any time and from any location to access goods, services and information.  Even when a cell phone is not being used, products such as wireless remotes can be used to open garage doors, change television stations or operate most vehicles.   Wireless products are considered more of a right than a privilege in today's society.

“For many years security systems were generally hardwired.  Installing wires for access control systems was a costly and time consuming procedure.  When a wireless system was installed, the possibility of false readings often existed.

Modern advances in electronic technology have now overcome problems of the past.  Many access control systems are being installed in existing structures which were not designed to easily accept an electronic security system.   Problems such as thick walls or complexes having detached buildings can be easily overcome by the use of wireless technology.   

Current advances in the mixture of audio, video and physical security products indicate that our industry is only at the beginning of this wireless security revolution. 

My shop has been in business for several generations, and we have been fortunate to be able to stay busy sticking to traditional locksmithing, although we are, out of necessity, starting to become involved in limited work with electronics, primarily with standalone electronic locks. We are losing business in other areas to keyless automobiles and home centers selling and keying locks, so we either expand our product offerings with electronics or we’ll have to let employees go if there is no work to go around.

Security Consultant

Another reader who is a security consultant had the following comments:

My tenure in security began when I applied for a technical position with an electronic manufacturing firm in 1975. The company manufactured commercial/military access control and security products.

The electronic security industry was really in its infancy. These were the days when manufacturing was still being performed in the U.S.A., especially short run specialized high tech products where manufacturing costs were not critical to the success of a product; uniqueness and effective niche marketing were.

I soon realized that knowing locking devices and understanding locksmithing was essential for effective design and marketing of our products and for determining where to focus our efforts on new products.

The security industry certainly took a several twists and turns along the way, most notably the transition from digital technology to computer based equipment, and then when PCs became cost effective so that access control systems didn’t need to be built up on proprietary circuits, hardware and firmware, but could rather use PCs which offered cheap and reliable processing power, data storage, a user friendly keyboard and monitor and a standardized operating system.

Initially wireless was considered a gimmick, but as issues associated with things such power consumption, miniaturization of circuitry and operating range were adequately resolved, the era of standalone electronic access was ushered in. Now for many applications, the standalone platform with the lock, (lever and reader in the same housing) the standalone is joining the family of networked access control solutions with the ease of installation and the power of real time two way interaction with the rest of the facility.”


Asked for his take on wireless in security; Peter Boriskin, Vice President of Commercial Product Management, ASSA ABLOY Americas offered the following comments:

The latest developments in wireless technology, including near real-time communication, enable more comprehensive security, at a lower price point and with greater ease than ever before. In the past, mechanical locks on doors were often the best the security industry could do. Even then, facilities were not always able to keep areas properly secured in many cases. With wireless, we now have an opportunity to address that issue in a new way without the infrastructure (and its associated costs) that would have typically kept the market at arm’s length.

Wireless access control also offers additional benefits such as real-time communication with an access control lock. For example, the IN100 WiFi lock from ASSA ABLOY Group brands Corbin Russwin and Sargent provides the ability for remote locking and unlocking in less than 10 seconds. 

We continue to see so many environments that benefit from real-time management capabilities that come with online access control. A facility gets the benefit of both the higher level of security and a far more cost-effective solution when compared to a hardwired opening.

The next generation IN100 Aperio® wireless lock, from ASSA ABLOY Group brands Corbin Russwin and SARGENT, offers the convenience and flexibility of Aperio® wireless technology with the real-time communication of online access control. Remote lock/unlock can be accomplished in less than 10 seconds. Available in cylindrical lock, mortise lock and exit device configurations, the IN100 also provides simultaneous support for multiple credential types and HID Mobile Access® powered by Seos®.


Robert Gaulden, Director of Aftermarket and Electronic Sales For Allegion responded:

As technology has evolved in the security industry, priorities have shifted. The original purpose of a lock was to guarantee security. Today, users are looking for secure devices that also deliver convenience and efficiency. Wireless solutions are designed to meet these demands.

These products are designed to strike a balance between convenience, efficiency and security — for locksmiths as well as their customers. For example, Schlage’s wireless electronic locks combine the lock, reader and sensors into one unit to significantly reduce installation time. This, combined with the affordability of these solutions, allows more doors to be connected within the same time and budget parameters as the wired counterpart. Bringing electronic access control deeper into a building and enabling the use of credentials on more doors increase customer satisfaction. Leveraging existing credentials beyond perimeter openings also builds opportunities for recurring revenue and eliminates the headache of key system management. And, most importantly, these features enhance visibility and control to provide an overall more secure solution by enabling audit reports and quick credentialing.

Users can even monitor openings or send updates to a wireless lock from their mobile devices. Today’s technology allows locksmiths and their customers to do so much more.”

Schlage’s wireless portfolio includes the Schlage NDE with ENGAGE technology, the Schole LE and  the Schlage Control™ Smart Deadbolt.


Jorge D. Hevia, SVP, Sales and Marketing, Napco Security Technologies, Inc.

Wireless Trilogy Networx & designer ArchiTech Access Lock lines' real-time lock event monitoring and control, integrated on  Lenel and Continental Enterprise Security Management Platforms, offer locksmiths, dealers and integrators alike, real-time lockdown and access control solutions for any door or building, easily and economically added on to new or existing networks.”

NAPCO Security Technologies, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of technologically advanced electronic security equipment including intrusion and fire alarm systems and communications, access control and door locking systems, security software and smart Apps.

In my opinion, NAPCO really established the standards and created the innovative products that lead the entire security industry.

Although it’s admirable to be a pioneer, it’s even more impressive to maintain a leadership position in their markets, alarms, access and advanced reporting products like NAPCO does. Their technologies and tech support earn the lifelong loyalty of their broad spectrum of security industry dealers and end-users. Their products include:

  • NAPCO wireless premises alarms
  • AlarmLock Trilogy standalone access controls,
  • Trilogy Remote Release Kits,
  • Starlink Intrusion and Fire Radios,
  • DLWindows,
  • Enterprise Platform Integration- Total Control & Real-Time Monitoring Networx,
  • NEW 2nd Generation Networx Gateway Modules and new Repeater Modules
  • Designer Architec wireless Networx locks with Bluetooth LE™ App called iLock®, which pairs the App with the locks
  • Now, Continental Access’ CA3000 and new CA4K®, the locks can act as a single door controller (intelligent edge device);  and as a Lenel® OpenAccess Alliance Partner®, Networx Locks are robustly integrated for use on OnGuard® (UTC®) networks, old and new.


Scott Lindley, President of Farpointe Data, made the following comments:

With advanced transmitters and high sensitivity receivers providing optimal coverage throughout an area, today's wireless access control is nothing short of robust. Moreover, spread spectrum technology, which sends the same data over many frequencies simultaneously, makes wireless redundant and extremely reliable.

 In most cases today, locksmiths use interchangeable contactless proximity or smart card readers to migrate from standalone, offline locking to a networked access control system by installing a spread spectrum communication module. After linking the reader to a PIM, perhaps via a range extending repeater, the user is able to initiate emergency lock/unlock commands throughout the facility when needed and change access rights from a central location."

Users of Farpointe Data's WRR-22 and WRR-44 433 MHz wireless receivers can use either 2-button or 4-button transmitters to open two or four different doors from ranges up to 200 feet (61 m). Each button outputs transmitter data over separate Wiegand outputs yet the receiver installs just like a Farpointe Pyramid Series proximity reader for easy integration with popular proximity or contactless smart card access control systems.

Ranger WRR-22 and WRR-44 receivers are a solution for long range access control applications such as gates and vehicle barriers, moving aircraft in and out of secure hangars, arming and disarming alarm systems as well as situations calling for emergency duress. Instead of using a card, which could activate more than one device or door at a time, the transmitter holder selects exactly the mechanism to be immediately triggered.

Available in either a two or four button configuration, and equipped standard with a weather-resistant potted proximity or contactless smart card module, the transmitter can be used as a presentation-style access credential. For example, a button may be presented to access a long range application, such as a gated parking structure, and then be presented to an access control reader to allow entry into the building.

Using standard 26-bit Wiegand protocol and featuring standard mounting holes, the WRR-22 and WRR-44 can be used as "add-on" or "wire-in" receivers. Using custom Wiegand 32- or 36-bit protocol, the long range system can be made even more secure.

This prevents credential duplication and ensures that the readers will only collect data from this single system's coded credentials. The lithium cell battery is tested to exceed 250,000 presses.


Paul Bodell, President and CEO, VIZpin Inc. answers Ledger’s question:

Almost every access control system today needs a wireless network connection.  Since end-users are increasingly concerned with network security, their IT guy is unlikely to let you use their network.  This means you have to install your own network equipment and ISP.  In the event they let you use their network, you need to hire a networking expert to install the system or run the risk of being blamed for any network problems they have.

Recognizing this, we developed an access control solution that can be managed remotely without a local network connection.  This means there is no risk to the end-users network, you don’t need a networking expert and anyone who can install a mag lock or door strike can now start selling managed access control.”

VIZpin makes affordable cloud-based access control solutions that improve security and convenience by using your phone as your key and your network.  Since VIZpin doesn’t need a local network connection or ISP, it is easy to install and safe from hackers.  Our Smartphone credentials are also more secure than RFID cards and a fraction of the cost.  To learn more about being a VIZpin Certified Partner go to


A spokesman for ZKAccess:

Today’s business owners need to control and manage Door Access.  They need a way to deny door access to unauthorized users, while allowing door access to users possessing authorized “credentials” (i.e. badge ID, PIN code, biometric, etc.) during specific days & time windows (aka time zones).  Business owners also need to a way to maintain an audit trail/report of who and when door-access occurred.  Often, business owners need to hire professional security installers who are expert in access control systems.

While hiring a pro isn’t cheap, the good news is wireless technology can reduce time and lablr spent installing access control systems because the technology eliminates the need for running wire.  Wireless systems also eliminate the possible need for drilling holes through difficult walls (i.e. sheetrock, wood, concrete, metal, etc.) while running the wire.

For customers preferring wireless access control, ZKAccess introduced the Wireless Bridgecircuit board and antenna which fits inside the same metal enclosure which houses the 1-, -2 and 4-door access controllers.  ZKAccess controllers are hard-wired to our door access reader, but the controller communicates “wirelessly” to the network/software. 

This guarantees the readers have continuous power (not battery dependent) and communication which ensures 100 percent uptime and real-time updates/reporting back to our access control software.  Regardless if wired or wireless . . . Windows or Cloud-based, every access control system needs “software” in order to manage the system.

The ZKAccess InBridge model supports 802.11.g wireless networks and has sufficient signal strength to reach door readers 300 feet away.  Boosters are also available if greater distances exist.  All ZKAccess door configuration updates occur in real-time when using our ZKAccess door access controller with Wireless Bridge.  ZKAccess uses true Wi-Fi.  One ZKAccess door controllers with Wireless Bridge is all you need to access networks within 300 feet away.