After recently surveying its members, the Electronic Security Association (ESA) has found several commonalities in the problems dealers experience with voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service and alarm panel communications.
ESA, formerly known as the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA), determined that for many installers trouble arises when customers change phone providers without ever notifying them. Others reported that VoIP telephone installers sometimes inadvertently disconnect the phone line from the alarm panel. Inadequate or non-existent battery backup for the modem and router was also seen as an issue.
“Many of our members have concerns about VoIP. The problem is they need to get those concerns to the right people to affect change,” ESA Industry Affairs Chairman Bob McVeigh tells SSI. “ESA is working together with representatives of AICC [Alarm Industry Communications Committee] to get the information to the right people.”
The survey also found that many telephone and cable company installers are not properly trained on alarm panel line seizure, and that there is unreliability in uploading and downloading to and from the alarm panel.
ESA members offered solutions to some of these common issues. Some try installing a back-up power supply to the customer’s modem and router or switching them to radio or cellular as the primary method of communication. Others have found success in getting the telephone and cable technicians to return to the property with the alarm technician.
“We must keep informed and embrace new technologies. The only true safety net will be multiple forms of communication,” says McVeigh. “This will be the way we can assure our customers that the signal will get through every time.”
The ESA Industry Affairs committee is continuing to work with alarm panel manufacturers, AICC and VoIP providers to develop a definitive resource for dealers and consumers on the evolving communications landscape.
“The most important thing is members must stay informed and keep their customers informed. This is the most important topic since AMPS, and anyone with their head in the sand will see significant problems with their customers,” McVeigh says.