VoIP: No biggie for monitoring company

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

New Orleans - In a move of pre-emptive action, third-party monitoring center Alarm Monitoring Services has taken a proactive approach to address potential communications issues surrounding Voice-over Internet Protocol services.

“We have been focusing a lot on the VoIP issue,” said Cindy Smith, vice president of operations at the company. “I think it’s going to get worse and not go away.”

The company monitors 40,000 accounts throughout the United States, including a regional concentration on the Gulf Coast states. More than 150 dealers work with the central station that operates Dice’s Aegis platform.

By electing to switch to VoIP services, consumers in some cases have not realized that they are disabling the primary method of communication for their security systems. And, if not done properly, an improperly handled transfer of service to VoIP might not be detected for days or weeks.

Operating over a high-speed Internet connection, residential and commercial customers alike have found VoIP to be an attractive alternative to traditional phone services due to the cost and the widespread availability of broadband in some areas. In most cases, broadband is already present at the home or business, making it easy to add VoIP service.

In order to beat the question of what to do next, AMS has been sending articles on the subject to the dealers that work with the central station. This educational approach has helped the company address the issues surrounding VoIP before misconceptions of the technology becomes apparent.

“I think this is another hurdle you need to identify in order to ensure they still have security,” said Smith. But through a proactive approach to addressing the issue, dealers should know where the industry is headed, “so they know the alternatives,” she said.

At those locations where a landline has been disabled and VoIP is present, dealers have had to update systems with modules that enable the system to communicate over the Internet, rather than phone lines, back to the central station. These devices, according to Smith, include AlarmNet.

VoIP is not the only threat faced by central stations in recent years. Consumers have taken advantage of a law that allows them to switch their home phone numbers to cellular phones. In some cases, the change has led to the demise of landline phones at residences.