CSAA looking for VoIP survey participants

Thursday, January 8, 2009

VIENNA, Va.--Over the past two years, the Alarm Industry Communications Committee has undertaken an initiative to ensure that VoIP operators are required to notify their end users of the steps needed to preserve alarm services should the end user choose VoIP phone services. Those steps include requiring the VoIP provider to notify the end user at the time of number activation that if they have alarm services, the end user needs to have their alarm company test their system, notify their alarm company when VoIP service is activated, and install a 24-hour battery backup for end user equipment. According to CSAA director of marketing and communications Celia Besore the need for a survey to study end user understanding of these steps is pressing. "We need to capture this information," Besore said. "We've been lobbying Congress and the FCC because what happens is when people get VoIP systems sometimes they don't realize that their alarm systems may stop working. It doesn't always happen, but in some cases it could stop working." AICC attended a meeting sponsored by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, along with representatives of the VoN (Voice on the Net) Coalition, Vonage, and representatives of the cable television industry. At the conclusion of the meeting, Committee staff asked all groups present to meet and develop a consensus on the best ways to inform end users of the potential interruptions of their alarm services as a result of switching to VoIP phone services. Both the representatives of the VoN Coalition and of Vonage contended that they were not aware that alarm service interruption was a real issue with end users. Besore said such a lack of hard data contributes to the problem. "What we're trying to do is work with the telecommunication companies to make sure that they inform their customers to contact the alarm company and let them know," Besore said. "And also to have the alarm company test the system after they do the VoIP switch over. Unless we can convince the FCC and Congress that a there are a lot of people affected, they might not be interested." The survey, which can be found at www.csaaul.org/AlarmSurveyapproved10-18-08.xls, will provide a much clearer picture of the size and extent of the problem. Interested participants can e-mail monthly responses to Besore at communications@csaaul.org. The CSAA looks to collect data for the months of January, February, and March 2009 and asks that data for March be sent no later than April 15, 2009.