NextAlarm Monitoring Services Inc. is expressing its concern about AT&T’s desire to shut down the traditional phone line network, saying that voice over IP (VoIP) is not suited for traditional alarm communication.
AT&T’s request, made to the FCC in December 2009, outlined the need for a specific date on which support for PSTN telephone lines would cease. Doing so would allow AT&T and other major telecommunications carriers to extend broadband Internet coverage across the entire U.S. VoIP phone services would replace traditional phone lines nationwide.
The FCC’s own National Broadband Plan, documenting the path to complete broadband coverage, calls the PSTN network
NextAlarm is an alarm monitoring service provider and technology developer offering service across North America.
“This obviously has huge ramifications for the alarm industry,” NextAlarm CEO Alex Elliot stated in a press release. “VoIP just isn’t suited for traditional alarm communications. Some signals might get through, but many won’t. Most systems out there will stop working reliably as POTS goes away. That’s even worse than if they stop working entirely.”
Elliot said that a customer could test his or her system one day and be told that everything was working, then have a break-in that night, only to find that the system can’t report the alarm.
He added that while cellular communicators and dedicated IP systems are a solution, they are expensive and time-consuming to install. “Solutions like our VoIPAlarm platform are becoming more and more important to companies looking to keep their existing customers without replacing entire systems,” Elliot added.
VoIPAlarm, an operating unit of NextAlarm, uses patented technology to convert existing phone line-based systems to use broadband Internet to communicate. According to the company, the technology works with most existing alarm systems, including two-way voice and PERS, and adds additional features such as e-mail and SMS notifications of alarm events, an online signal history, and automated voice notifications of non-emergency events. Systems using VoIPAlarm continue to send signals to the same dispatch center they used when communicating over a phone line, and provide line security, which is not available with POTS signaling, the company says.