Cell Phone Number Switching May Cut Link to Alarm Companies


As people begin to switch their home numbers to their cell
phones, there’s something alarm system customers are
forgetting: their alarm system.

On Nov. 24, the Federal Communications Commission enacted
new rules that allow customers to keep their phone numbers
after switching their local phone carrier. That includes
the ability to switch their home number from a traditional
land telephone line to a cellular or wireless phone.
However, there’s the risk that when a home security
customer shuts down their home telephone line, they may
also be shutting out their link to the alarm service.

“Ninety-nine percent of home security systems are monitored
by their home telephone line,” says Grant Thayer, vice
president and general manager of Radar Security Alarm in
Winston Salem, N.C. “They take the live line away and
there’s nothing.”

The FCC estimated that as many as 6 million customers
switched their home numbers to wireless phones in just the
first few days of the new rule. Wireless provider Sprint
Corp. says its own survey found 16 percent of home phone
users were interested in switching their home phone to
their cell phone.

Even before the rule went into effect, Thayer says he had a
customer who found out the hard way what happens when you
forget how vital the landline is to a security monitoring
system. The customer closed his account with his local
phone company to rely solely on his cell phone. Thayer, who
says his company does weekly communications tests,
registered no signal from that customer’s house.

“I called the customer and he said ‘it didn’t occur to
me,'” says Thayer of when he informed the customer the
system was out. “It’s not a bad deal for the customer but
they need to think of everything that’s affected by this
before making a knee-jerk reaction and doing this.”

It’s not just the switching off of telephone lines for cell
phones that’s causing headaches for central stations.
Customers who switch their home phones to digital
subscriber lines (DSL) are also cutting their alarm system
link. Even though it functions through the same home
outlets as traditional land phone lines, filters need to be
attached to DSL-connected lines to keep communication with
the central stations.

“One of the problems people have is they get rid of the
landline, put the DSL in and they don’t notify us,” says
Robert Jennison, director of business development for Post
Alarm Systems in Arcadia, Calif. “When they have alarm
activation, there’s nothing coming into the central

The solution, alarm operators say, is to inform users as
soon as possible on the consequences of shutting down their
home phone line or switching to DSL on their alarm system
and working with the customer to ensure that service

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