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by: Rich Miller - Friday, December 9, 2011

How could the alarm industry have gotten caught up in the partisan bickering over extending the Social Security payroll tax cut? It’s a long story, but here’s the quick pitch:

A bill proposed in February by Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.—the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011— contained provisions that threatened the alarm industry, namely an FCC auction of bands of spectrum used by centrals. The revenue would help offset the reallocation of the “D-Block” of spectrum in the 700 MHz range for a public safety broadband network, a byproduct of the communication problems experienced during the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

Auctioning spectrum used by centrals would be hugely problematic for the industry on many fronts, a fact not lost on the Alarm Industry Communications Committee. The AICC, working with police and fire protection groups from around the nation, has been lobbying the FCC about the potential problems, and surprise—apparently the frequency provisions have been dropped from the latest version of the bill. There are other messy details, of course, but you don’t need to hear about how sausage is made, at least not from me.

So this is good news, right? Well, I just got off the phone with Lou Fiore, chairman of the AICC, and it seems that another beast has raised its head: Next Generation 911. This addition to the House bill would allow alarm signals to be sent directly to PSAPs, including signals from PERS devices. The alarm industry currently screens these calls, 99 percent of which don’t require the dispatch of emergency services, according to Fiore. Removing third-party monitoring would have an obvious consequence, he said: “It would bring 911 centers to their knees.”

In the grand tradition of lawmaking, the Next Generation 911 provision is now tied in with the legislation to extend the Social Security payroll tax cut—again, think sausage—on which Democrats and Republicans have not exactly been seeing eye to eye. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has vowed that lawmakers will not go home for Christmas until the deal is done, so that means the AICC’s work isn’t done. There likely will be more developments next week, and probably more down the line on other measures that could undercut centrals. “It’s like weeds popping up in the garden,” Fiore said. “You have to keep looking.”

Stay tuned …

 
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by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, December 7, 2011

At first it just looked like a big bowl of alphabet soup, but as the “new guy” at Security Systems News, I’m starting to get my head around it. In the first few weeks at my post I’ve had a chance to hear from some of the organizational leaders in the industry—Ed Bonifas, Stan Martin, Bob Bean—as well as many others who have helped me get my feet wet. There’s long list of folks who I haven’t talked with, though, and a long list of companies that I’d like to know more about, so I have some work to do.

This blog is part of that process, and it would be great to hear from those in the know if I don’t dial you up first. Any industry developments, large or small, count me in: rmiller@securitysystemsnews.com, or 207-846-0600, Ext. 254. I look forward to getting to know everyone.

On the email front: There was a real gem circulating among CSAA members recently about Hedy Lamarr, the Hollywood siren and screen legend. It turns out she was also quite the inventor, co-patenting spread spectrum radio, a technology that would eventually lead to today’s cellphones, Wi-Fi and GPS. And did I mention her torpedo guidance system for the U.S. Navy?

L.A. Times writer Adam Tschorn said it would be like crediting Farrah Fawcett for developing Google’s proprietary search algorithm. But truth is stranger than fiction. Richard Rhodes chronicles Lamarr’s little-known work in his new book, “Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World.”

And that’s Hedy, not Hedley, “Blazing Saddles” fans …

 
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, October 7, 2011

C.O.P.S.' vice president special projects Maria Malice recently won the 2011 Arizona Alarm Company Person of the Year honor for an unprecedented fourth straight year. I've spoken with Maria before when she won the honor in 2009 and spotlighted her seemingly bottomless well of energy when it comes to working for the industry in her home state of Arizona.

First of all, congrats to you Maria--again.

I had a chance to chat with Maria via email about her fourth year being honored. Maria found out about the win on Wednesday, September 28th at the AzAA (for those of you who read my last blog post, that's Arizona Alarm Association) Annual Convention, Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner. I corresponded with her just a few days later

Please find that interview below.
 

Maria, what do you think won you the honor this year?
I think it is because of all the work I do with the cities when they are looking at their ordinances and considering making a change or starting a new ordinance. We try to find a happy medium that works for all involved. The police department, the end user, and the alarm industry. I work with the departments through the writing process if possible and then toward the end before the send it to council in checking it over. Also when they go to city council I come to the meetings and speak on behalf of the AzAA as to our thoughts on the new ordinance.
 
In starting to work with a city it is important to know their goal in writing or changing an ordinance. Then when I read through an ordinance I keep their goal in mind, then I look for everything from typos, to conflicts within the ordinance, to what's fair and reasonable to all and make the appropriate suggestions to the city. The ordinance has to be good for all three parties involved, the end user, the PD, and the industry. I work very hard to keep an open mind and consider all the parties involved.
 
Also, when they have issues that come up, I work as a resource to assist them in finding a resolution.

Well it certainly sounds like it keeps you busy. Where have you been busy lately?
This past year, Mesa, Tucson, Avondale, Glendale, and now Peoria. Tucson and Avondale being the highest profile Cities.

What is there still to do (in other words, where are you focusing your energy right now)?
Right now Tucson is struggling with reworking their ordinance and there are some conflicts between the different companies in Tucson. Everything from licensing requirements, to permit fees is creating the dissention between the companies. So working with the companies and the police dept in their efforts to find a solution that all can live with before going back to City Council.
 
In Avondale I am working with them on the ordinance they passed to fine the alarm company for all false alarms. We are making progress in effecting a change in that ordinance.
 
I'm also gearing up for once again submitting a bill for statewide alarm licensing.

Do you think a fifth year as Arizona's top security person is in the cards?
Anything is possible, but I am really hoping that others within the Association will step up and take a more active role in working with the Cities. Too many times people are complacent and let others do the work that everyone benefits from. It is important that we all understand that we have to work together toward the betterment of our communications with the police departments we work with daily, and the betterment of our industry and the communities we live and work in.  
 
I would love to see someone else win because that means they get it and will have taken an active role in their industry and community. When that happens we all win!!

 

by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, October 6, 2011

I read through Ken Kirschenbaum's security industry newsletter dated 10/4 with interest the other day. As most of you know, I've written about the worlds of central station monitoring, PERS, and false alarm reduction and ordinances for a while. It's easy for me to forget that not everyone--even people in the indusry--is familiar with some of the acronyms and terminology commonly used in the security industry. I'm no stranger to the confusion that can come from not knowing the references others are using. On my first day here at SSN in 2008, I realized I was going to be in trouble with all the three-letter acronomyms (and four-letter, and five-letter, and etc.) so I asked for help and got it from Celia Besore, who forwarded on to me a listing of Security Industry Acronyms pulled from CSAA's membership directory (page 65 of the 2008-2009 directory). All I had to do was ask. It's there as a resource. I just checked that list and it's interesting to note that ECV isn't on there... language is a growing, living thing and as intelligent animals we're blessed with the ability to ask questions.

It struck me as a little funny that there were some commenting in Ken's newsletter that they didn't know what "ECV" (used in an earlier posting in the newsletter from SIAC (oops, I did it myself... used an acronym without explaining what it means... SIAC is the Security Industry Alarm Coalition) director Ron Walters) meant, and further seemed to lack any sort of idea as to how to find out.

From the newsletter:


Hi Ken, I had to chuckle about Mr. Barlow's posting below. The reason for the chuckle is simple: I have no idea what "ECV" is either. So, I "Googled it" and low and behold it is a medical term acronym for turning a breach baby around. Wow, not sure how that applies in our business so I tried harder and added "security" to the Google search and came up with "Enhanced Call Verification". Now that made more sense.
I agree with Mr. Barlow; spell out the thought and ensure what we write is clear, especially in emails! I have heard that those that use acronyms are attempting to show they are smarter than others!
Thank you for your continued value to the industry!


Mark Ingram

President


Visonic, Inc

I've written about some of Mark's ventures before, and he's on the right track here, I think. If I don't understand something, I look. I ask a question of someone I think might have the answer. I don't necessarily assume someone who uses an acronym is trying to look smarter than others... I think that maybe it's a sign of someone striving for economy in language... Either way, the Internet's a pretty great resource and the security industry's associaions are there to help you learn and grow.

Again, from the newsletter:


Dear Ken:
 I know that you are committed to keep this forum fresh and relevant. I truly appreciate the time and space you have already dedicated to this issue and I ask that you post this one last reply.
 My apologies to both Tony Barlow and Lee Jones for not being more specific. ECV is Enhanced Call Verification and is a process that requires that at least two calls to two different phone numbers be made in an attempt to verify intrusion signals. ECV does not apply to any manually activated signal such as a hold up or panic, nor does it apply to fire. It is an approved American National Standard Institute (ANSI) standard. ANSI has no connection to our industry. They are an independent standards approval body. To have an ANSI Standard there must be an approved standards body that frets out the entire process under ANSI's supervision. In the case of ECV that was the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA). CSAA wrote the standard, opened it for public comment and were required to address all comments prior to submitting to ANSI for final approval. In this case the final document is ANSI/ CSAA-CS-V-01-xxxx. You can download the document for free by following [this] link ...  An important note is that you do not have to even be associated with the industry to comment on a pending standard that is open for comment and all comments must be addressed and replies sent as to the support or dismissal of all comments.


.

When law enforcement, under the International Association of Chief's of Police Private Sector Liaison Committee (IACP, PSLC), tasked the industry to find a solution(s) to the high incidence of user initiated false dispatches a series of tests were performed. First several central stations would take all unverified alarms during a random period of time and, prior to dispatching, call the premise phone number a second time. In 25% of the cases the second call was answered and no dispatch was required.


Next we sought to find out why the first call was not answered and the overwhelming cause was the call waiting feature on the premise line, the same line being used for the alarm to communicate on. The alarm goes off, the monitoring station receives the signal and attempts to verify. When the operator calls the premise they hear the phone ringing but in actuality the panel still has line seizure so anyone on site hears nothing and leaves. This can be addressed when programing the alarm panel.


When programming the receiver line first use the call waiting disabling prefix, usually *70. Now when the operator attempts to verify and the line is still seized the hear a busy signal and attempt to call again prior to dispatch. If you do this then you must also program the second receiver number into the panel without using the *70 prefix in the case that the call waiting feature is ever canceled.  If you are not comfortable with this then you MUST use ECV and the second call should be to a cellular number.


After proving the concept of ECV as being viable there needed to be a larger test. In Boulder Colorado the City had repealed their unenforced alarm ordinance in preparation to going to a non response policy. The Chief graciously allowed a period of time to test the process and in just 45 days dispatches were down over 30%. In the next 18 months with no other action being taken those reductions rose to over 60%. All that was needed to reach this level was that the Chief issued a policy and when an attempt was made to dispatch the caller was asked if at least two calls were made and to what numbers?


It is important to note that the second call to a second number is not an attempt to ask the alarm user to guess what is happening at the alarm site. In all cases where there results in no dispatch you will be reaching someone who is either still at the alarm site, has just left the alarm site or who knows exactly why the alarm is going off. If there is any doubt then a dispatch should be made.  This addresses Mr Jones in his statement that it can not be enforced. Enforcement is really simple and only requires a few months of asking if two calls were made.Once the monitoring stations know that a jurisdiction requires ECV they comply.

Even today with all of the acquisitions and mergers somewhere close to half of all monitored alarms are in the hands of small local company's. Unfortunately only 10% of these belong to an industry association. If this weren't dad enough, most don't read industry publications every month so a large percentage is in the dark as to what is happening legislatively in the industry. I would be remiss if I didn't encourage you join your state association and at least one of the national associations. These the Electronic Security Association (ESA) the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), the Security Industry Association (SIA) and the Canadian Security Association (CANASA). Links to all of these are available at www.siacinc.org.


I would welcome anyone wanting more information on this and other related legislative initiatives to contact me at ronw@siacinc.or or call me at 954-347-4883.


Thank you all for your interest.


Ron Walters, Director


Security Industry Alarm Coalition

I've spoken with Ron at length in the past. He's a dedicated guy who obviously wants to help people understand and learn and grow.

I also like this following bit of commentary from Mark Matlock over at UCC. I've also spoken with Mark before and have followed his organization closely.

regarding Lee's comments


Neither Ron Walters or SIAC or any other industry source to my knowledge have touted Enhanced Call Verification (“ECV”) as “the ultimate false alarm solution” .  Rather, we in the alarm industry realize that ECV is a very important piece of the overall puzzle in addressing the important issue of false alarm dispatch reduction.  I will add that it is a very effective piece.  Our wholesale alarm monitoring company, United Central Control, adopted ECV across the board and we have reduced police dispatches for burglar alarms by close to 35%.  I would say that this is a significant accomplishment by anyone’s definition.


Is ECV the “end all, be all” solution to false alarms?  Of course not, but it does show diligence on behalf of the alarm industry to assist the police departments nationwide in reducing calls for service related to burglar alarms.  I applaud SIAC and many other Alarm Associations who are resolute in addressing this issue.  I don’t know the source of your pessimism, but your words tend to mitigate the hard work and significant accomplishments of the alarm industry and its affiliated Associations for the last ten plus years.  We have made huge strides in working with the police departments and reducing calls for service related to false alarms.  The statistics in major markets nationwide bear out that calls for service from burglar alarms have been significantly reduced while alarm installations continue to rise.

Good job alarm industry.


Mark Matlock


United Central Control, Inc.


Regardless of whether or not you agree with ECV, one must admit that the resources to succesfully translate a three-letter acronym are out there for anyone who's genuinely intersted in finding out, as I would assume someone involved in the industry would be.

Topic:
by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, September 29, 2011

I was going through my inbox the other day and I came across an email from RSI president Keith Jentoft. I've written beforeabout Keith's always-on-task, tireless promotion of video verification. He forwarded on a link to me of the security industry being spotlighted in a local news broadcast.

It's nice to see the security industry get some positive coverage in the mainstream media. I've also written before about the black eye the industry often receivessince news only seems to cover security when there's a loss.

Anyway, the spot paints the industry in a positive, helpful light. It gives plenty of facetime to Videofied's MotionViewer (though, MotionViewer Man is conspicuously missing...) and I don't think they could have squeezed one more shot of the Acadian logo in there.

Nice work guys!

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by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

So I got back from ASIS International 2011 late last night and have been playing catch up at my desk all day. I'm just now getting around to going through my notes and putting together a little something to let all of you know how it went.

While I was there, I had the chance to sit down with a number of people and ask them how the show and their year was going as we approached the beginning of the fourth quarter.

It seemed like everyone was talking about the age of managed services. Integrators are no longer simply accepting them, but are beginning to expect them as well. According to some I with, the advent, proliferation and advancement of wireless technology has pushed the industry to a tipping point.

OzVision global director marketing Matt Riccoboni said smart phones had trained end users to expect more.

"Smartphones have changed the way we interact with data. It's no longer sufficient to say, 'I'll look it up later.' Smartphones have created an immediate need, an immediate thirst for data. So what we're doing is making services like video available that way," Matt told me. "And it can be for a lot of different things: an audit trail, for liability issues in the healthcare vertical … The channel partners, the integrators are really thinking of where this can be effective…. for example, with quick serve restaurants, integrators can offer access to video that shows a manager if people are consistently leaving because of long wait times. That's business intelligence that tells the manager they might want to bring on more staff to better server their customers."

I've talked with Matt before about the company's partnership with Sonitrol as well other issues.

It's all about choice and not getting stuck in the past, according to Telular vice president of marketing and business development Shawn Welsh.

"Our focus has been raising RMR. Cellular is now a trusted pathway, so now how do you leverage it to make more money?" Shawn asked. "One way is through offering interactive services, which we developed with the TG-1 express that work with older panels as well as new panels. You can offer an iPhone app to a panel from the '80s."

talked with Shawn last month about the new manufacturer-agnostic two-way voice capability Telular was touting at ASIS.

Diebold director of security solutions Jacky Grimm pointed out that managed services allowed integrators a way to offer a lower price point and a lower learning curve for getting in on the value managed services can offer.

"Technology is changing so fast. It's difficult for end users to have the money there to update, so what we're doing is packaging it in to leverage payment over time," to include things like training, oversight and hardware and software updates. "So you pay a flat fee up front, but the technology keeps pace with the world."

I've also spoken with Jacky recently about a number if things Diebold had going on, including their insight on managed access control, their move to pick up UL 2050 certification, and their addition of exta, managed services like targeted weather alerts.

I also met with Bruce Mungiguerra who is vice president sales and dealer development at Monitronics International. He told me their training program was performing nicely for them.

"We've enhanced MoniX a great deal," Bruce told me at the Monitronics booth. "It's like boot camp. It gives dealers a stronger relationahip with us ... We compared growth for new dealers and the average growth from month three to month 15 was 160 percent."

Bruce talked with me last year when Moni picked up a large dealer, Power Home Technologies, as an authorized dealer.

I also had a chance to sit down with Rob Tockarshewsky, Pete Tallman and Ken Modeste from UL. We talked about standards development, different UL listings, webinars, and UL's work with vetting hardware and software for Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-1 and FIPS 140-2 compaliace.

"FIPS 140 is a standard that's based around encryption and encryption technology in the federal space. It's been a requirement since 1995 ... Any kind of encryption has to go through this vetting process ... Any product, whether it's a USB stick, an alarm panel, a network router or printer--if it has any kind of encryption technology is required to go through this program for testing and evaluation," Ken told me.

"As more and more of these companies become more involved with the federal government, the need for FIPS testing becomes very important," Rob added.

I've spoken with Rob and Pete over at UL before on matters ranging from the competing NRTLs and UL 2050 listing and what it can mean for an alarm company.

I also had a chance to chat with former SDN editor Rhianna Daniels--now the principal at Compass PR--who dropped by SSN's booth with some of her clients from Next Level Security Systems who were due to sit down with SDN managing editor Whit Richardson for an on-camera interview. I interviewed Rhianna and NLSS' Amelia Hew earlier this year at ISC West in regards to their work with the Women's Security Council.

Over all, it was a fruitful trip to Orlando.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Facebook connection of mine recently posted a link to a YouTube video that got me all fired up. The video details the developing story of Michael Allison, an Illinois man who, in an attempt to protect himself and his aged mother from what he considered police harrassment, recorded police he felt were abusing their power. Allison now faces 75 years in prison because he had the audacity to record police whom he felt were misbehaving on his property. These police weren't even in public... they were on his (or his mother's) property and because Allison recorded their voices without their consent on his cell phone during the exchange, they're hitting him with five counts--based on some archaic laws on the books in Illinois--of felonious eavesdropping. It's a class 1 felony in Illinois and literally equates Allison, if convicted, as a felon as bad as murderers and rapists... Really? The police have nothing better to do?

So when I watched the video I got pretty fired up, given that surveillance is something I write about an awful lot, most recently compiling a sourcebook article on surveillance and civil liberties, with a focus on Chicago. I spoke with people from the municipal side in Chicago who maintained public surveillance was a necessity as well as folks from the ACLU, who claimed civil liberties were being infringed upon by surveillance in public.

Police, of course, are allowed to videotape citizens at will.

Ken Kirschenbaum has, in his email newsletter, delt in past with liability issues relating to surveillance, especially audio.

They Huffington Post has an interesting look at the Allison case as well, as does a site called Death & Taxes, which points out that the Allison case is pressing ahead "just days after the 1st District Court of Appeals upheld the right to record police actions in public in Glik v. Cunniffe."

I put out emails to the Chicago chapter of the ACLU as well as to some former police with whom I'm acquainted to see if anyone had any input. I've heard nothing back from the ALCU, but former police officer and Illinois Electronic Security Association president Chet Donati (DMC Security) got back to me with some input. He seemed a little surprised by what's going on in the Allison case.

"If what this guy asserts is true," Chet told me, "it seems like they're taking the law to an expensive and unnecessary extreme."

Chet has spoken with SSN a lot lately, for stories about his trials and tribulations with former IESA executive director Marsha Kopan as well as in regards to the association's ongoing battles with local fire districts.

This is certainly an interesting and messed up story. I'd love to get your opinion. Do you think citizens should have the right to record police in public or in private? Do you think Michael Allison needs to be put away in federal prison with rapists, murderers and thieves for the remainder of his life because he had the gall to record police pushing him and his mother aroundwithout their permission? Are anti-eavesdropping laws archaic? Or are they defensible?

Let me know your thoughts.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, September 12, 2011

Avid readers of this blog will recall when SSN associate publisher Gregg Shapiro and I went on an adventure down to Texas last year. It was a blast and we met with a lot of security folks! I got a lot of copy out of that trip and learned a lot as well. Part of what we were traveling down there for was a dealer fishing trip put on by NMC. This year, Gregg and I had another adventure driving from the airport to our hotel in Charlotte, N.C. for ESX. Me, Gregg and his haughty English sounding GPS device cruisin' the streets of Charlotte. Awesome.

Just recently, Gregg again traveled down to Texas and checked out a cool event UCC was having for its dealers, a dove hunt. Now, unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but Gregg did manage to capture some pretty awesome video of UCC president Teresa Gonzalez and a number of other UCC employees rockin' the house with a UCC-themed rewrite of John Mellencamp's R-O-C-K in the USA.

Here're some of the specifics: It was the 8th Annual UCC Dove Hunt Extravaganza during which UCC hosted over 150 folks, representing about 80+ dealers from across the country from Pennsylvania to California. The program began with tours of UCC’s San Antonio center on Thursday, September 8. A dinner sponsored by DSC and SGI was hosted that evening at the Alsace Hotel & Spa in Castroville, Texas and the hunt then took place at the Nooner Ranch in Hondo, Texas on Friday, followed by a bbq dinner and music. Including the special performance by Team UCC.

I've written about security videos before. I always like seeing bits of footage caught or created by the security peeps about whom I write.

Rock on UCC!

by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, September 6, 2011

So I got this news from ESA and CSAA the other day. Apparently ESX, which touts itself as the only trade show owned by the industry and existing for the benefit of the industry, has raised north of $1 million for the associations since the show's inception in 2008. That's pretty cool news, given the state of the economy over the last several years.

ESA and CSAA have funneled all that money back into the industry in the form of funding for more education and more legislative initiatives, and public relations to benefit integration and monitoring companies.

ESA president Dom D'Ascoli was clearly pleased with the milestone. From the relase:

In addition to providing invaluable education, networking and vendor contact for our member companies, ESX is an important source of funding for ESA. The event has generated substantial funds for ESA during a time of general economic headwinds and has helped the association expand and improve its services.

CSAA prez Ed Bonifas also chimed in on the accomplishment.

CSAA is thrilled to be an owner and sponsor of ESX, and is proud of all that it does for the industry. Its profitability for the associations in every year since its launch is a testament to the event’s quality and structure.

I spoke with Ed just the other day about the current state of the ASAP-to-the-PSAP program and how the automated data transfer protocol faired during the natural disasters--the rare East Coast earthquake and Hurricane Irene.

John Galante, president of AE Ventures, producer of the ESX show was also excited by the news and hopeful of what it meant for the future.

AE Ventures is proud to produce an event that helps fuel industry growth through the programs of CSAA and ESA. All parties are committed to producing a growing, high quality event and making sure the industry is the principal beneficiary of its success.

ESX will be return to its roots in Nashville, Tenn for the next two installments.

 

 

by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I wrote a while back about AT&T's bid to purchase T-Mobile. I wanted to look whether or not having such a large provider as the only choice for a GSM carrier would be damaging to the security industry. Whether or not it might prompt others to throw their hat in the ring as wireless service providers to the industry.

I, and others, argued that it might be dangerous from a service and pricing perspective to have one giant wireless provider being the only place security folks could go for their GSM needs.

I picked up this story today from the New York Times. Apparently the US Justice Department is suing to block the acquisition, claiming "The combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would result in tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher prices, fewer choices and lower quality products for their mobile wireless services." That last quote was from James M. Cole, the deputy attorney general. The Justice Department’s complaint was filed in United States District Court in Washington on Aug. 31.

Of course, their looking to block the acquisition with an eye on the end user. However, it stands to reason that the same negatives listed above would plague security folks looking to leverage GSM technology in security solutions, doesn't it?

AT&T has vowed to "vigoriously contest" the matter in court.

The Times story points out AT&T has some pretty strong reasons to want the deal to go through:

AT&T has one powerful incentive to try to salvage the deal. Under the terms of the agreement that AT&T signed with Deutsche Telekom, AT&T would pay a breakup fee of $3 billion in cash, as well as a roaming agreement and spectrum rights — an estimated total value of $6 billion — if the acquisition did not go through for regulatory reasons.

Other wireless providers, such as Sprint, which entered the security industry as a partner with Cernium this summer, have voiced opposition to the merger.

“Sprint urges the United States government to block this anticompetitive acquisition,” Vonya McCann, Sprint’s senior vice president for government affairs, said back in March. “This transaction will harm consumers and harm competition at a time when this country can least afford it.”

The Times story notes shares of AT&T dropped nearly 4 percent on the news of DOJ's suit, to less than $29. Shares of Deutsche Telekom, the parent of T-Mobile, fell 5 percent in trading in Frankfurt. Shares of Sprint Nextel were up nearly 6 percent, according to the Times.

It will be interesting to see how the deal--or if the deal--goes down.

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