Keeping Your Home Security System Connected During the Evolution of Telecom Networks.
May 03, 2022
What’s the big concern?
The electronic security industry relies heavily on ever-evolving public telecom networks to connect with customers. Change will eventually be required to make sure security systems in many of our customers’ homes will always be able to send alarm signals immediately to our monitoring center.
Why can’t you use my old phone line, that’s worked well for decades? The “old fashioned” phone network that sends analog signals over copper wires strung on telephone poles through every neighborhood is in decline.
The legacy telecom companies like Verizon and ATT are no longer investing in old analog copper-wire phone systems and are transitioning to digital networks, both wired and cellular. This means, security systems have to adapt, to operate effectively in this hybrid environment of old and new networks, ideally with multiple means of sending alarm signals.
I have new phone service, bundled with my internet service, and it works for the alarm. Why change?
You may have noticed that the quality of the voice calls on your home phone often is not as good as it was years ago. That’s largely because of different protocols, and rapidly evolving technologies used by telecom companies today to send digital voice calls over the emerging hybrid networks.
In a similar way, the “bundled” telecom landscape is not always friendly to alarm signals. The newer digital platforms, usually without notice, undergo tech updates, some of which can degrade or delay alarm signal transmission. In some cases, the upgrades mean alarm signals no longer can get through.
This level of uncertainty for transmission of alarm signals over new “bundled phone services” is not acceptable to us for maximum protection of customers.
Why is this an issue now?
For several years running, our engineering and operations teams have installed new hardware and software solutions that, so far, have been able to bridge the gap and maintain alarm signal flow over old copper phone lines and the new digital “phone services.” However, we’ve reached the point now that we believe the “phone services” pathway will never be 100% reliable, and the best practice for alarm monitoring must change to newer, more stable pathways.
What’s the solution?
Our best practice for new home security systems today is to have a minimum of two modern independent pathways for alarm signals— (1) an internet connection and (2) a cellular communicator as backup. Customers with this most recent configuration are well positioned.
We expect broadband internet connections to remain intact for many years into the future, and they are an efficient primary means of alarm signal communication. For redundancy and reliability, wireless cellular networks provide an excellent secondary pathway for alarm signals, even though that requires periodically updating the cellular communicator in an alarm panel, in the same way that we upgrade our smartphones every few years as the networks evolve.
This combined dual-path solution of internet and cellular communicators also has the benefit of supporting all the latest technologies including an app for your smartphone and connectivity to a video doorbell camera, for example.
Many of our customers, however, do not currently have this optimal configuration, even if they have recently upgraded their system’s wireless cellular transmitter from 3G to 4G LTE, but still utilize wired “phone services” for primary communications.
While the sunset of older cellular networks has been widely published in the media, the deteriorating status of alarm signal transmission via bundled “phone services” is not as well known. We have found this to be problematic, for some alarm systems, even some which are relatively new.
In the coming months, we will continue this conversation in greater detail, providing specific information for groups of customers based on their specific needs. Until then, on behalf of our entire family and the extended management and operational team here, we thank you and appreciate your willingness to work with us through the technology evolution ahead to keep your home and family as safe and secure as possible.
I have more questions.
A productive conversation must be two-way. So, if you have any technical questions, please email our team at 3G@americanalarm.com. For other questions, or to share thoughts on this or other security matters, you can reach us directly at President@americanalarm.com. (This new direct email was created thanks to a recommendation of a trusted residential customer!)
For more information about the 3G Sunset and how it is affecting the electronic security industry please click here.