Tuesday, February 05, 2008

More on Voice Over IP

A letter of mine to The CBC regarding a recent
article of theirs on a home owner who came home to an empty house and a
security system unable to communicate to the security alarm monitoring
station due to him have Voice over IP.

Being in the security alarm industry for almost 20 years and owning KeepSafe Systems for 11 of those, I have realized most
consumers do not know the effect their phone line has on the ability of
their security system to communicate with the central monitoring station.
With the technology overload going on nowadays, one cannot blame the
consumer for not thinking about such things. With all the technical
manuals and the growing complexity of the simplest of technologies the
modern consumer is being bombarded with new technical terms and concepts
on an almost daily basis. 


Fact of the matter is the responsibility lies on the
security alarm company to educate their clients and provide measures to
test the security systems communication. For that reason, I have always
believed in programming daily signal tests into all of my accounts.
Although this does not replace proper education and regular testing on the
behalf of the client, this is a standard feature all alarm companies
should use. Unfortunately, larger companies must deal with line overload
issues, therefore the daily test turns into a weekly or sometimes monthly
test signal. In fact, many companies continue to collect monitoring fees
without knowing whether the system is sending signals or not. 


In addition to line quality issues, consumers also
need to know the effect the house power has on the ability for VOIP & IP
based transmission methods to effective communicate data. Since the
internet connection is reliant on a modem plugged into the house power
many IP based (VOIP & TCP/IP) are useless in the case of a power failure.
Although most security alarm panels are equipped with a battery back-up,
Internet modems and routers are not. The simple fix is to purchase a UPS
back-up or connect the modem to another source of power with a battery
back-up. 


All that aside, non-managed VOIP networks are
problematic for many reasons. With the increased competition both ISP’s
and VOIP providers are looking at cutting costs. These cost cutting
measures result in signal degradation which is not necessarily apparent to
the human ear, but definitely detrimental to data communication. In fact,
the telephone industry as a whole is guilty of this. With the North
American implementation of the “sunset clause” and new digital
legislations, alarm companies are continually up against Least cost
Routing. This is where long distance calls are routed through the most
cost effective digital method which is often IP based and subject to the
same bandwidth issues as VOIP. For that reason, it is also important for
consumers to understand the negative effect dealing with monitoring
stations outside of their local calling area has on their security
systems’ ability to communicate. 


This is a long and complicated issue which requires
both sides of the table to meet. Unfortunately, for this to happen we must
go through many more situations similar to that of Mr.
Terrick.

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