Alarm Contractors Alerted to Increased Cell Phone Switching

WASHINGTON

After a trial run in some of the nation’s larger series, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has expanded its phone number portability rule to cover the entire United States, increasing the need for central stations and alarm dealers to be aware of how their customers use their phone. The new rule allows cell phone customers to keep their phone numbers when switching carriers. More important to security contractors, it allows customers to transfer their traditional landline phone number to a cell phone.

The number portability rule, which went into effect Nov. 24 in the top 100 cities by population, went nationwide May 24. “Your phone number belongs to you, and you can take it with you no matter where you live,” said FCC Chairman Michael Powell in a statement.

The FCC says the initial rollout in November covered 70 percent of phone customers, while the remaining 30 percent have been covered by the rule’s expansion.

According to the FCC, 217,000 consumers have cut the cord to their landline phones and switched to wireless since the initial rollout on Nov. 24.

Monitored alarm customers may not be aware that switching off their landline may sever the link between their control panel and the central station. Switching to cell phones is just one telephony protocol contractors and central station managers need to be aware of.

Contractors also need to be on alert that customers who purchase digital subscriber line (DSL) service should either attach a low-pass filter (usually provided by the DSL carrier) to their phone line link with the panel to ensure the system continues to work properly.

Also, another new protocol, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), is just starting to gain favor. VoIP, which involves the transmission of voice calls over a data network, offers even more challenges for contractors and their end users, as detailed in the Industry Pulse: In Depth feature in the April 2004 issue of SSI.

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