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NB IoT Smart Access Brand Comparison

From the image above, you can immediately see one of the key benefits NB IoT smart access has over other brands, and that is there is ‘no onsite network infrastructure’.

NB IoT smart locks are fitted with SIM cards which enable them to connect to the internet via the telco’s NB IoT network which sits on their mobile towers.

This is a significant breakthrough in access control, as it means for the first time ever, electronic locks can be installed anywhere.

In more recent times, the electronic lock which most people are familiar with, and that is the RFID keycard lock which is typically found in hotels and offices, has become wireless.

In the past RFID keycard locks were all wired together (through doors, walls and ceilings) and they needed things like big controller boxes to hold all the electronics, as well as onsite PC’s/servers connected to the wires to program the locks, and of course onsite power was needed too.

In recent times, the RFID keycard lock has gone wireless, but this does not mean that they also went ‘onsite infrastructureless’. The new wireless locks were able to get rid of all the cables, and the controller boxes full of electronics, but if you want to use all the features of the wireless RFID keycard lock, you still need to have onsite the things listed below;

  • special cards for programming the lock for limited time use

  • an encoder box for creating new keycards (you’ve probably seen them when you check in to a hotel, the front desk receptionist wipes your card over a machine that looks a little like a credit card reader;

  • a special programmer unit, which you plug in to the lock to download the lock audit (that is who has used the lock at what time)

  • Keycards

The software to program the locks, and create those new keycards, still comes in the form of an old CD-ROM for most wired or wireless keycard brands - so you can’t operate the system remotely or from a phone. Therefore you can also add ‘PC’ to the above ‘onsite infrastructure list’ for wireless keycard locks too.

So the bottom line is, if someone new turns up on your site, and you have either wired or wireless RFID keycard locks, and you want that someone to get access to your property for a limited time period, (such as a visitor at the office, or a guest at a hotel), you need the items listed above to operate the system.

Some brands, such as Kisi, have essentially replaced all the equipment on the ‘infrastructure list’ above, by adding Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to RFID keycard systems. But at that same time to make a ‘connected Wi-Fi/BLE lock’ work, you need to have onsite a ‘Wi-Fi bridge’ and/or an onsite ‘router/modem’ to connect to the internet. And you’ll also need to ensure that the onsite Wi-Fi mesh or web, is strong, so Kisi need to have professional ‘system integrator’ installers to ensure their system works for customers.

There are many other ‘attachment style’ smart lock brands available on the market, and they are mostly Wi-Fi/BLE solutions too, so they also need that ‘onsite network infrastructure’. These products are also designed to be sold as one unit with one app management account. They are not designed to connect all together on different Wi-Fi systems all around the world, which is what many commercial premises require.

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