The Importance of Ensuring Telecom Redundancy and Diversity

A monitoring center structured with a blend of tier one telecommunication carriers and premier RespOrg facilitator will bring the best results for continuous uptime and disaster recovery.

Central station monitoring centers along with installing dealers are challenged by a variety of situations and decisions on a regular basis. Like any other industry some of these hurdles are difficult to predict — therefore actions of resolution are unfortunately reactive.

Fortunately, many of these challenges faced by central station monitoring centers and installing dealers are relatively predictable, allowing for precautionary actions to mitigate any overt disasters or uncomfortable situations.

One big area that has always plagued the industry, and is obviously growing, is the implementation of proper redundancy and diversity of telecommunications for dealers — and most importantly central station monitoring centers — to maintain continuity of services.

While the industry has faced these challenges and decisions for several years, they are growing because of telecom carriers restructuring traditional telecommunications ecosystem and long-haul networks.

From another and totally different perspective, most of these issues are also shrinking as older communicating security and life-safety systems with dial-up central stations report fallout to attrition, or are upgraded to current methods of central station communication as cellular, private radio and IP.

Unfortunately, at this time the growth of the issue is outpacing the shrinking of the cause. The biggest problem that sometimes goes unnoticed, but has disastrous effects, is the lack of consistency in legacy, digital alarm signal communications over existing telecom networks.

Although session initiation protocol (SIP) is advantageous both technically and economically, alarm signal communications over SIP or VoIP can be problematic and typically result in a high percentage of non-communications.

Unfortunately, even with communications over traditional primary rate interfaces (PRIs), some monitoring centers tend to have some losses in alarm communications due to tandem carriers that may backhaul call traffic over SIP.

It’s a growing problem because telecom carriers are rapidly retiring analog paths and replacing them with IP communications. Assuming security companies are acting responsibly and no longer installing systems that rely on dial-up and POTS lines for communications to their central monitoring centers, this problem should diminish over the next five to 10 years as more systems communicate through current technologies.

The carriers are extremely motivated to offer and central stations are eager to engage in SIP because of economic as well as diversity advantages. Although all SIP is not the same, even the best in class is currently not what central stations need for traditional digital communication reception by their legacy central station receivers.

Having said that, many centers are engaging in a hybrid approach that makes a lot of sense. This approach takes advantage of the great economic and diversity advantages of SIP for pure in- and outbound voice calls while leaving PRIs in place for legacy digital communications.

Most important to this approach is that these same central stations are maintaining themselves as their own RespOrg should they need to move traffic from one carrier or trunk group to another due to transmission drops or carrier outages. Maintaining a hybrid network of multicarriers, multiservices as PRI and SIP and becoming your own RespOrg allows for full control.

Monitoring centers maintain a great sense of control and peace of mind knowing they can redirect one or all their telephone numbers in six minutes or less. This is something monitoring centers could only wish for in the past and is now a reality. I have helped a variety of monitoring centers both large and small to restructure their telecom and improve their redundancy.

A central station monitoring center that is structured with the blend of tier one telecommunication carriers and a premier RespOrg facilitator will bring the best results for continuous uptime and virtually automatic disaster recovery. This is also a great help for maintenance-planned outages or upgrades that allow for a path change in minutes.

The overall goal of a proper and sound structure brings priceless advantages by maintaining control of toll-free numbers for immediate redirect during outages, cutovers, maintenance and troubled communications.

Leveraging the telecom carriers networking, connectivity and security delivers a more focused, efficient, effective and secure environment for monitoring centers of every size. It’s essential that central station monitoring centers maintain all that’s available to provide the best redundancy and diversity, even when they only maintain one physical location.

Becoming your own RespOrg is easy and very inexpensive. Implementing a plan as your own RespOrg doesn’t increase your liability, it actually reduces it as the plan reduces margin for error on a variety of levels.

Features include: creating preset, carrier-redundant disaster templates with your service providers; controlling your own inventory and routing; search and reserve TFNs directly from the SMS/800 database; taking advantage of carrier rate variances for least-cost routing; and the ability to integrate through APIs to automate toll-free management and failover within your telco environment.

Monitoring centers that have this structure should make sure their clients understand the depth of their dedication to uptime. Dealers at the same time should challenge their monitoring center to assure they are supported by the best-in-class services, redundancy and diversity.

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About the Author


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

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