(Photo: © Safeline AG)

Two years until potential GSM shutdown


With around 50 percent of all lift alarm systems in Germany still equipped with 2G GSM solutions.

The real challenge is not finding the right technology but ensuring that replacements can be manufactured and installed in time. The lift companies to start coordinating and planning for the future of lift safety.

By Michael Puttrus

Lift alarm systems have been equipped with 2G GSM for more than 10 years now and hundreds of thousands of lifts in Germany are reliably operated with an alarm system using this technology. But in the coming years, much of the old technology used for voice communication will be phased out in favour of more modern network connections, like 4G and 5G, something also known as the digital switchover – posing a threat to seriously disrupt functionality and create an unsafe condition if not upgraded.

Although 2G GSM availability is guaranteed until the end of 2025, the end of the 2G network is already casting its shadow. In some cases, there are already failures due to installation changes from the network providers. In Germany, 2G GSM availability is only guaranteed by major providers until the end of 2025 with no specific date for the shutdown, nor any plans for the time after the shutdown. In other European countries it has been learned that shutdowns have taken place with just a few years' notice.

For fixed network telephone connections via copper lines, Bundesnetzagentur has prepared a plan for conversion to fibre optics from 2025, with alarm systems being retrofitted to landline connections.

No particular challenge

Technology-wise, the shutdown is not a particular challenge for lift companies as 4G solutions for lift alarms have been available for years and in many cases – depending on the technical solution on the lift – a simple modernisation is possible. The real challenge is the availability of the necessary components, as these amount to the hundreds of thousands.

Lift alarm system manufacturers, such as Safeline, have been providing their customers with 2G GSM solutions for more than ten years. Consequently, a significant number of these systems are currently in operation, and any requests for last-minute replacements could pose a real challenge for manufacturers due to the need to replace multiple annual production volumes.

If there is a short-term conversion (e. g. two years) without prior notice, the existing material and production capacities would quickly be overwhelmed, especially since delivery times for some components are still fifty weeks.

Avoid the shutdown of lifts

Furthermore, the capacities of the assembly companies must also be taken into account, as well as the decision-making processes of the lift system operators. We therefore see it as necessary to point out now, i.e., reasonably in good time, that the planning for concrete measures by all those involved makes sense today. Coordination between all those involved is always an advantage here. The aim of all of us is to avoid the shutdown of lifts, be it a lack of communication, components, assembly capacity or orders.

Only those who have already installed devices with 4G (and backwards compatible) or IP solutions in the last few years can rest assured to watch this promotion pass by. Everyone else should not deal with the possibilities too late.

The author is Managing Director Safeline Deutschland

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