Monitoring Matters: Time to Face the Alternatives

Although I have touched on the subject of alternative means of central station communications in the past, it was specifically from a standpoint of offering ancillary services and creating additional recurring monthly revenue (RMR). This certainly remains a meaningful channel for dealers and integrators to pursue. Only now the various alternative communication technologies used between a property and the monitoring center are rapidly becoming a necessary element of every security system.

I may be underestimating the necessity for alternative communications by stating the deployment of them is rapidly growing. In fact, I believe we are at the brink of where it is a required element of every new security system sold today.

Digital Dialers Give Way to Future

Compare this trend with the climate that many of us experienced when automatic tape dialers were gradually phased out and the communications channel slowly, then rapidly, was taken over by digital communicators. Digital communicators have been the staple of alarm signal transmission for many decades. Although numerous improvements came about through the years, the essence remained the same. Eventually new ground was broken with the introduction of analog long-range radios, then cellular communications, followed by IP communications over broadband networks.

With the demise in the use of plain old telephone service (POTS) lines, along with the rapid deployment of broadband networks, voice over IP (VoIP) services and the declining prices of cellular services, the message is quite clear. Digital communicators could soon become another dinosaur destined for alarm system museums. The various alternative means of communications offers greater scalability, faster communication, the ability to process larger amounts of data and, most importantly, the ability to maintain quality communications as POTS lines become extinct. 

Attrition is the nemesis of the alarm company owner. Why would anyone want to sell and install a system that could potentially present a problem either now or in the very near future? Any alarm transmission inadequacy could stimulate conflict and potentially trigger an increase in subscriber attrition.

A good example of forward-thinkers and organizations that have looked at this with unbiased eyes are the successful “summer program” companies. Most of them have taken a very strong approach by only offering communications through cellular and/or IP channels. Granted, they need to charge a bit more than the average monitoring account, but they do so by justifying what they are providing. It’s one thing to charge more. It’s a completely different notion to cost justify and present the great value the client is receiving for a few extra pennies per day for enhanced security that will sustain the changes within the telecommunications industry.

A Paradigm Shift Not to Ignore

Through my 30-plus years in this industry, I have seen a lot of change.  What I see on the horizon now leads me to believe that heads will spin if business owners don’t pay attention.

Many dealers state that communications are not a problem for today or that they are not concerned about the telecoms and cable providers entering the industry because they have failed in the past. A shortsighted mindset such as this will be the demise of any dealer, eventually. I welcome the telecoms and cable providers. I believe they will raise the bar and cause independents to step it up. Then dealers who rise up to meet this challenge will prosper better than before.

We are in the midst of a transitional period that could be very meaningful for the companies that choose to engage, change and grow better than before. Also significant, those who don’t engage the future and fail to make the paradigm shift could possibly become extinct.


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About the Author

Peter Giacalone

Peter Giacalone is President of Giacalone Associates, an independent security consulting firm.

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