Canada Increases Fee for Alarm Monitoring Line

SARNIA, Ontario, Canada

Despite the protests of alarm monitoring system operators and the Canadian Security Association (CANASA), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has approved Bell Canada’s request for a 10-percent rate increase for its digital voice access control (DVAC) service in Ontario and Quebec, which is used by many central stations in those provinces. Canadian alarm industry officials say the increase will mean a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the alarm industry and its customers.

DVAC, which has no connection to access control security, is an end-to-end, multipoint data connection designed by Bell Canada that forms a dedicated direct line between alarm customers and monitoring stations. The connection -150 baud using an F1/F2 subset – is known in the United States as Dataphone Select-a-Phone (DSAP). DVAC is mainly used by end users with high-value possessions such as banks and jewelry stores and is also used often in connections to fire alarms in Ontario and Quebec. UL Canada has urged stations in Canada to use DVAC. “Unlike others where dual-line is the standard, DVAC is the standard here,” says Dave Currie, president of Sarnia, Ontario’s Damar Security Systems.

Currie, who also serves as the telecommunications chairman for CANASA, says the rate increase may spur some of his customers away from DVACS. “I don’t anticipate losing customers for the rate increase, what we do anticipate is migrating customers to another form of communication,” says Currie who nonetheless praises DVAC. “There is no reason why the industry should continue to embrace dual-line dialers. DVACS is supervised. Within 3 minutes of a failure, the station will know about it as opposed to a dialer dual-line which is supposed to send a signal every 24 hours.”

Bell Canada told the CRTC – the Canadian equivalent to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) –  that it needed to raise the rate hike because it was spending $8 to $10 in Canadian dollars for each dollar it had earned on the service. DVAC’s U.S. communication cousin is also losing favor among telecommunication companies. Quest Communications has a petition pending before the FCC to withdraw DSAS service in 11 states.

However, Currie doesn’t buy Bell Canada’s argument that DVAC has been a money-loser for them. “They would have a hard time proving it. It’s an accounting game where you can make the numbers say anything you want them to say,” Currie says. “The commission was misled.”

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