Don’t Let Telecoms Hold Your Lines Hostage

The ability to control your own telephone services is essential. Conversely, if a carrier states they won’t allow this, it would be a first sign and red flag that something may not be in line with your needs and requirements.

With the growing issues stemming from legacy alarm signal communications, many dealers and central stations are evaluating SIP communications. Although SIP offers technical and economic advantages, engagement with the right providers is extremely challenging.

The industry has experienced problematic results with a high percentage of non-communications over both TDM and SIP. Because the non-communications are a growing problem, many central stations are investing time in evaluating various approaches to replace legacy communications with a current approach utilizing SIP trunking.

The carriers are extremely motivated and central stations are eager to engage in SIP because of the advantages that include better diversity. Although all SIP is not the same, even the best-in-class carriers struggle to provide central stations with what they require.

Although most struggle to provide service that will satisfy legacy alarm communication, some have worked hard to structure communications and reception to provide services that in some cases outperform communications with TDM.

Equally important to choosing the proper carrier, is the central stations maintaining themselves as their own RespOrg should they need to move traffic from one carrier to another due to issues or carrier outages.

Maintaining a hybrid network of multicarriers, multiservices as TDM 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 telephone number or all their telephone numbers in a few minutes during the transition period to SIP.

Engaging in relationships with proven tier-one carriers and RespOrg portal access facilitators bring the best results for continuous uptime and virtually automatic disaster recovery. Because the barrier of entry for SIP providers is relatively easy, countless SIP providers exist and it is sometimes difficult to delineate between the world-class quality providers and the others.

The industry is overloaded with resellers and aggregators along with the tier-one providers. Information is golden and understanding what separates them all on every level is essential.

The ability to control your own telephone services is essential. Conversely, if a carrier states it won’t allow this, it would be a first sign and red flag that something may not be in line with your needs and requirements.

Taking this to a greater extreme, I have seen certain providers working within the security industry selling IP telecom SIP that mandate contractual language that is substantially different from the customary telecom contract language relating to term length.

Typically, when engaging with a provider you may have a term relating to a commitment of a minimal annual spend with that carrier or provider for a period of time. The term and terms are typically clear in the agreement and you have flexibility to move telephone numbers in and out of their network during the term.

Traditionally, when you don’t maintain control of your telephone numbers you are required to submit RespOrg forms for moving the lines. This form is structured for just that, moving lines between carriers. In some cases, we have noticed some IP telecom providers use the RespOrg form to dictate the term that the telephone lines must remain on their network.

Even if your master contract has a shorter term or different start date, this RespOrg form commits that the lines must stay on their network to the upside of five years. You would have no control of movement to another carrier or provider even if you were having dropped calls or no transmissions.

For all intensive purposes your telephone lines are held hostage without recourse to remedy a situation should it surface. Furthermore, this could devalue your company as it would prevent the sale of your company to a buyer who would need to move the lines to their carrier and central monitoring station.

This could also cause a conflict with covenants that may exist with lenders that include the telephone lines and representation of their portability as part of a typical collateral agreement. For wholesale monitoring centers this is extremely serious for the centers that offer assignability of dealer lines upon a dealer’s request.

Committing to these long-term commitments will put the central station in default of their covenants with their dealers.  This is all very serious and something that everyone that owns telephone lines must be made aware of so they don’t put themselves in a situation that could be devastating.

It‘s always been essential to be attentive to details when engaging with a carrier. It was a bit easier in the past when the choices were AT&T, Verizon, MCI & Sprint. Now with countless carriers and providers, it’s essential to examine the creditability of the company and network along with their contracts and any document that is related to the relationship.

Not all SIP carriers are the same. To a greater extent, even some providers who market products as TDM sometimes turn out to be converted subpar SIP. Consulting with an advisor and conducting detailed due diligence is a must. Speaking with other central stations and dealers is very helpful.

Another extremely challenging task for monitoring centers is requiring portability of local telephone numbers from one termination to an out of area, state or network location. In the past, remote call forwarding was the only feasible structure. Now, certain carriers are utilizing IP solutions to deliver very good results.

All in all, we are seeing some light when it comes to communications. Between the sunset of 3G cellular communication and what is inevitably the start of sunsetting of legacy TDM communications, it’s essential to pay attention and make sound decisions when it comes to all methods of central station communications.

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About the Author


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

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