Talking IP solutions and POTS problems

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10/18/2010

I noticed an ACCENT discussion string talking about "POTS trainsmission issues" going on lately and, of course it caught my attention.

The discussion started when Matt Bergeron over at NEXgeneration Central asked if anyone else out there in ACCENT land had been having problems with their POTS service. I spoke with Matt a while back about their sudden and successful growth this past year. Many people chimed in on the POTS transmission string and the discussion began to examin VoIP issues with alarm communicaitons.

Morgan Hertel at Mace CSSS said that he believed that bad POTS transmissions were a sign of the times as service providers attempted to save money which meant routing calls (including alarm signals) through--or at least partly through--VoIP channels.

"The industry in my opinion is not taking this seriously both with  working with carriers to provide a transition plan but also to  start educating the dealer trades with the bad news that what they have been using for the last 25 years is suddenly going to be changing," Hertel said. "I speak with central stations all the time and just about everyone I talk to is going through the same stuff all the time and as an industry we need to have a unified message to the dealers and installers so they can start the transition and training, otherwise if you all think the AMPS sunset was a challenge this is going to melt us down."

Of course, I've done a lot of writing about POTS and VoIP... Actually the last comment is from Stephen Kovacsiss from Bosch security. He wanted to let everyone know about a free VoIP solution Bosch has.

"We have found that many are not aware of the latest update to the Bosch D6600/D6100i receivers in response to VoIP/GSM issues, so we would like to make sure that you know that Bosch has made significant advancements in dealing with VoIP when using Contact ID, 4-1 Express, and 4-2 Express formats.  Using patent pending digital signal processing, Bosch receivers can now interpret signals that would previously have been dismissed because they did not meet the formatting requirements of the communications protocol. This new processing performs additional analysis on alarm signals that allows the receiver to decode signals that have been modified by VoIP or digital phone networks.  Our testing has shown error reductions of up to 76% in known problem sites," Stephen said. "These updates are available at no charge for all users of our D6600 (with D6641 line cards) and D6100i Central Station Receivers in Version 1.35 of our D6200 central station receiver software on the Bosch web site.  Click on the following link to be directed to the download site, or paste it into your browser."

Avid readers of mine will recall I did a story about this a few months back.

I also did a story on a new company out of Sugarland, Texas called ipDatatel that claims to defeat the IP communications problems.

Matt over at NEXgeneration said something that stuck with me as well, since it's something I've been speculating about for a while:

"We need to do all wireless radio solutions and divorce ourselves from the phone carriers totally!!!"

I've been wondering when someone in the industry is going to create a communications backbone owned by the industry--by a communications association, say--that serves the industry reliably like POTS did. Is such an undertaking possible? Or worthwhile?

While they get in on the ACCENT discussion, I also had contact recently with World Wide security, a New York-based full service alarm company with their own central station, Vision Monitoring Services. They had a thing or two to say about POTS transmission problems and VoIP issues as well.

“With copper lines, your voice is your voice," said World Wide operations and technical services manager Christopher Edgar. "With VoIP, your voice is captured, compacted and combined with other data such as alarm signals and runs it across the line.”

This is the same problem the guys from ipDatatel were telling me about.

“One solution for transmission problems associated with alarm signals and VoIP switches are capture boards. The idea is to capture the transmission off the outgoing phone connection of the panel and convert that IP information and send it over the Internet. This is one idea the industry is working towards. If you have VoIP then you probably have Internet service. That makes IP signaling a possibility. The idea is terrific, but in practice it is difficult because every manufacturer uses its own protocols," said Dave Young, VP Vision Monitoring Services." The central station requires that manufacturers’ receiver equipment receive the signal. In traditional alarms it came down to format; as long as the receiver could handle the format, you could receive any manufacturer’s signals. The ideal solution for those products is a standardized transmission that allows a universal receiver to receive that traffic which the industry may or may not be working on. It is mind boggling that manufacturers cannot agree on a transmission protocol to send traffic to be handled by any number of devices—they all want to sell the razors and the blade, but not the razors that can handle any blade.”

Does anyone else have anything to say about IP communications? Problems or solutions? What's next?