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POTS legislation imminent?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

So I was reading through my email the other day and I came across the most current edition of Ken Kirschenbaum's e-newsletter on the security industry.

One reader of Ken's asked about POTS and legislation regarding the imminent demise of the communications pathway with which the industry has grown up.

Ken put the question out there and asked if anyone could offer some help.

Now POTS lines, communications pathway alternatives and the FCC's actions with POTS and other communications mediums are topics about which I've written a lot.

I have a call out to my contact at the FCC as well as to a friend with the AICC to see if there is anything current to report on the FCC's developing Broadband Plan as well as any legislation out there currently.

Here's the question posed to Ken in its entirety:

Hello Ken,

We are about to embark on a new marketing campaign to "cut the cord" and I wanted to know what legislation is currently out there on landlines. I know there has been some talk about landlines coming to an end within the next decade or so, but I was wondering if there was anything more specific-maybe at a state level. I am having trouble finding information on line and was told by Amy that you are the expert in the field. Could you maybe point me in the right direction on where to search?

Thanks for your time. I greatly appreciate it.



Last time I talked with FCC spokesman Mark Wigfield in the beginning of 2010 he told me there was going to be a big job of work getting any sort of solid plan ready for implementation.

"There was a requirement in the stimulus bill that the FCC develop a national broadband plan for congress within a year. The purpose of the plan is to look at how to make broadband more universal and more affordable and address a number of national purposes, including national security, public safety, homeland security and education—a whole laundry list of things. So we’ve been gathering a lot of data. There were 28 public notices, directly relevant to broadband," Mark told me last year. "The broadband plan is supposed to be delivered to congress by Feb. 17 and it’ll have a lot of recommendations on rulemaking that the commission should move forward on. I can’t say right now what the recommendation would be, but this public notice certainly asks for a lot of data."

While I was putting this post together I heard back from Mark over at the FCC. He said he didn't think there was anything going on right now.

"I think certainly there's a recognition that networks are evolving to more IP-based networks, but I don't think there is any sort of proceedings to shut down the PSTN. AT&T has filed a petition talking about that and it's out for comment," Mark told me. "Certainly, we're focused on incentives for IP networks in terms of how the current regulatory structures may incentivize people who might want to keep older networks rather than make networks that are more advanced, IP-based networks ... But there's nothing else to really report, other than AT&T's petition."

AT&T's petition can be found here.

At that time, when rumblings of a possible POTS sunset began to surface, I also talked with Vector Security's Rick Simpson. He was pretty insistent that even if POTS went away today the tech exists to make the transition.

"If you called me up today and said, ‘Listen I don’t have any landline phones in my house. I have an alarm system and I have a network connection. Can you monitor me?’ I’d say ‘Yeah, we can.’ Honeywell, Bosch, DMP a couple others out there today have devices that allow us to take that information and transmit it back to the central station,” Rick told me at the time. “This is not a major issue … There’s enough technology out there available to us to be able to connect and monitor any system out there.”

I also have a call out to Lou Fiore at the AICC, from whom I waiting to hear back now.

On the same topic, I also picked up a LinkedIn discussion started by IPAlarm's Steve Nutt in the Alarm Monitoring Group. I've talked with Steve before about telcos, the PSTN and alternative communications pathways like VoIP, GSM and broadband.

He shared a story and topical question:

How not to handle migration away from PSTN

I was recently contacted by an alarm monitoring company in Bulgaria who had switched all the lines within their own premises from PSTN to VoIP. The majority of their systems stopped functioning correctly and they were getting all sorts of communication errors.

Bulgaria has the highest level of software piracy in Europe and it was quite funny how they contacted me with the expectation that I would immediately send them everything we had ever developed without pausing for a moment to discuss the simple matter of cost.

Anyhoo, it reminded me of a misconception (one of many) that I had stored in my head about the demise of PSTN. I had only ever thought about what would happen when customers no longer had the option of a landline, when in fact the situation could arise where a monitoring company no longer had the option either.

I have no idea if this is what happened to the monitoring company in Bulgaria as our communication ended very abruptly, but I can't help wondering how many other monitoring company owners worldwide have contemplated this happening to them.

I am working with a company in the Caribbean and the owner told me it's not possible for anyone to order a new installation of a PSTN line any more. I'm not sure how many countries would have a similar situation right now, but you'd have to guess that the number might increase rapidly over the next five years.

What is the situation with PSTN in your country?

Security industry consultant and CTO at Systems Support Specialists Mark Fischer responded:

Here in the U.S. the problem on the central station side is that the communications carriers are using VoIP as part of their network "upgrades." So the central station my be served by PSTN or T1 connections, and the subscriber may have plain POTS, but all of sudden systems stop communicating form certain areas, because backbones from an area are being routed over a VoIP connection by a carrier in the routing chain.

What I find amazing is the number of installing alarm companies that are in denial about the problem, they believe that because they made a format change or are able to get a few test signals through that they have provided reliable communications. What they do not understand is how VoIP really works and how it is treated on the Networks, the difference between tier1, facility based solutions and secondary level providers, and the effects of network load. Not to mention backup power issues both on site and off.

The fact is that VoIP is the going to be the future of land line telecommunications for the foreseeable future. Central Stations and installing companies need to provide migration paths for their subs to ensure reliability of monitoring services.

There are lots more comments that I won't get into here.

Interesting conversation. I'll update this post and tweet should I hear back from Lou from the AICC side.

Let me know what you've heard in your municipalities re: POTS or PSTN legislation.

ESA conducts survey on alarming trend

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I just wrote about a battle ongoing in Illinois over public entities taking control of fire alarm monitoring away from the industry. Even though a federal judge recently ruled in favor of ADT and some other alarm companies that state law doesn’t give fire protection district the authority to be in the fire alarm monitoring business, municipalities in Illinois are interpreting part of the ruling to assert they still have the right to mandate all alarms be monitored by them.

But the problem isn’t just in Illinois, according to the Electronic Security Association. A recent post by the ESA Integrator, the ESA’s news site, says that cities and towns across the country are looking to raise revenues by getting into the alarm monitoring business. The ESA is conducting a survey to learn the extent of the problem.

Here’s more from the ESA:

“A hot issue in the industry right now is municipalities across the country, seeking ways to increase revenue, looking at entering the alarm business by either offering monitoring services to residential or commercial alarm users or mandating that all alarms be monitored by the municipality. ESA has created a survey that every member should take to help us determine the breadth of the problem nationwide.

To take the survey, visit




Reputed mob boss appeals ADT fraud conviction

Monday, August 1, 2011

Security Systems News has written previously about Vincent Artuso, who was sentenced in 2009 to nine years in federal prison for his role in a real-estate scam to bilk ADT out of millions of dollars.

Now, according to a recent Associated Press story, Artuso, reputed to be a captain of the Gambino crime family's South Florida operations, has asked a federal appeals court to throw out his conviction. Artuso’s lawyers claim that prosecutors in the trial used “prejudicial evidence” about organized crime that wasn’t related to the fraud charges, the story states.

Here’s more from the July 27 report:

“Vincent Artuso's attorneys asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to toss the conviction because prosecutors didn't have enough evidence to convict him of fraud and racketeering charges involving a scam that targeted ADT Security Services Inc. They also claim the trial was tainted by a biased juror.

But federal prosecutors countered that there was ample evidence in video recordings, audiotapes and court testimony that proved Artuso was a "made member" who ran a South Florida crew for the notorious crime family. And they said defense attorneys should have raised objections at trial if they were concerned about the juror.

Artuso was convicted of the charges in a 2008 trial after prosecutors built a case contending he was a captain of the Gambino crime family and directed a powerful crew that included his own son.

Prosecutors also asserted that Artuso was linked to the infamous hit that led to John Gotti's rise to power. They cited FBI affidavits and other evidence indicating Artuso was present on Dec. 16, 1985, when former Gambino boss Paul Castellano was gunned down in front of a Manhattan steakhouse — allegedly on Gotti's orders.

Gotti, known as the "Teflon Don" for his ability to avoid criminal convictions, was convicted in 1992 of racketeering and murder and died in prison a decade later.

Artuso was never charged in the Castellano killing, but prosecutors in January 2008 accused him of setting up a sale and leasing scheme involving four office buildings owned by ADT Security Services that defrauded the company of at least $11 million over five years. He and three others were convicted of the charges in October 2008.”



Potter Electric helps young burn survivors

Friday, July 29, 2011

It’s summer and almost time for a camp that gives children who are burn survivors a chance to enjoy everyday camp activities and also build their self-esteem with support from each other. And it’s thanks to sponsors such the Potter Electric Signal Co. that the youngsters have the opportunity to attend such a special place free of charge.

For more than 10 years, Potter has supported the Burns Recovered Support Group, which is hosting the annual Missouri Children’s Burn Camp Aug. 8-12 this year at Camp Sabra, in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, according to a recent company press release.

Here’s more from the release:

The Missouri Children’s Burn Camp provides a special experience for young burn survivors to interact with one another and have a positive effect on their attitude and self-image. The camp hosts between 75 and 85 children each session, where campers enjoy swimming, boating, archery, water skiing, fishing, zip lines, ropes courses, and crafts. This year, the BRSG we will be hosting 2 children from Peru to attend the camp, as well as native Missouri and Kansas residents.

Judy Nyhoff, Inside Sales Manager for the Sprinkler and Industrial division of Potter Electric, has been a member of the BRSG Board of Directors for 4 years and personally involved with the camp for 7 years. During that time, she has acted as a camp chaperone, counselor, and group leader. She said, “Burn camp is truly an amazing experience, not only for the campers, but for everyone involved. During the years of my participation, both my husband and my son have joined me in attending and volunteering at camp. Helping the campers see their true beauty and potential makes the experiences worthwhile.”

Missouri Children’s Burn Camp was founded in 1997. Due to the support of many wonderful sponsors and volunteers like Potter, there is no charge to any camper for participation in this program.  Burns Recovered Support Group sponsors all the children interested in attending camp. Missouri Children’s Burn Camp is for any child, 6-17, who has been hospitalized for burns.

For more information about the Burns Recovered Support Group or Missouri Children’s Burn camp, call 314-997-2757, or visit


Security + fire = More business

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Security companies often come across customers who also have fire needs, but if they don’t do fire, they have to turn those business opportunities down.

But now ADI, the Melville, N.Y.-based wholesale suppliers of security and low-voltage products, is offering a free course to show you how to add fire to your product offerings.

According to the company, “the ADI Spring Into Fire Roadshow offers an accredited training class (2 hours) provided by Fire-Lite Alarms. Designed to help you expand your business into fire protection and safety, this course will provide detailed information on how you can get started in this market today. The class will review current market trends, leading fire solutions and life safety technology. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how you can grow your profits.”

Sounds like an opportunity.

The ADI Spring Into Fire Roadshow began earlier this month. Here’s a list of upcoming locations and dates (all class run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and include lunch): Dallas, Aug. 2; Pompano, Fla., Aug. 2; Houston, Aug. 4; Greensboro, N.C., Aug. 9; Pittsburgh, Aug. 9; Seattle, Aug. 9; Elmsford, N.Y., Aug. 9; Tampa, Fla., Aug. 9; Orange, Calif., Aug. 10; North Hollywood, Calif., Aug. 11; Minneapolis, Minn., Aug. 11; San Leandro, Calif., Aug. 16; Fresno, Calif., Aug. 18; Portland, Ore., Aug. 19; Sacramento, Calif., Aug. 23; Denver, Aug. 24; and Elk Grove, Ill., Aug. 31.


Detection, verification, apprehension and deterrence

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I received some emails lately that remind me of the importance of converged verification technologies in security. I'm talking about verification, of course, something about which I've written plenty.

Of course, avid readers of my blog and stories are familiar with Keith Jentoft and his company RSI Video Technologies whose Videofied has been delivering verification, apprehensions and deterrence and securing priority response from increasing numbers of PDs everywhere. There's more than one way to verify an alarm, however. Sonitrol Pacific is tweeting out success stories pretty regularly, too. Of course, not everyone's down with verification and I've looked at that too. And of course, not all the verification/priority response legwork is coming from the Videofied camp.

Recently, I got an email from David Smith over at C.O.P.S. He wanted to let me know how thrilled they were to catch some bad guys in the act, report to the local PD and be an active part in apprehending some perps. Dave said C.O.P.S. couldn't be happier.

"I thought you might like to know that we caught a burglar in the act!" Dave told me. Dave shared a link with me of the verified crime in progress and the apprehension. Nice work guys.

I also recently got an email from Minu Seshasayee with Interprose PR. She was letting me know about a new gig for March Networks helping to protect, via video, a large solar farm in Italy. I met Minu at ISC West recently. I always appreciate hearing what's going on in the world of video surveillance.

I've written about similar situations here in the U.S. where expensive equipment like solar panels, and of course copper piping are at constant risk of theft.

Seems like a no brainer to me. Verification is a value add.

Energetic Vivint

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vivint has been in the news this year for changing its name from APX Alarm to signal the Provo, Utah-based company’s expansion from home security into home automation.

A big part of home automation is energy management and the summer-sales-model Vivint is increasingly involved with energy solutions. First, there was the company’s acquisition late last year of a company that installed smart meters for utilities. Then, this month, Vivint announced it has a new energy division, Vivint Energy, and a new president to lead that division.

Here’s more from the July 19 press release:

“Vivint has hired Tanguy Serra as president of the company’s newly formed Energy Division. The new Vivint Energy division pulls together the company’s smart meter installation capabilities, energy management services and renewable energy initiatives. The division will continue to expand the company’s role in providing smart energy solutions for consumers and utilities."

"In his new role, Serra will lead the company’s energy initiatives, as well as oversee day-to-day operations and bottom-line performance of the division. Serra will report to the company’s COO Alex Dunn."

"Prior to joining Vivint, Serra served for seven years as a vice president at TPG, a leading global private investment firm with $48 billion of capital under management across a family of funds. Serra worked in TPG’s London office, where he was on the team that managed the successful buyout of TIM Hellas Telecommunications SA, one of Europe’s leading mobile telecommunications firms. Serra also worked in Singapore and Hong Kong, leading TPG’s investment in HKE, a leading Chinese renewable energy company. Most recently, he worked in TPG’s San Francisco office, where he focused on renewable energy investments in the United States. Before working with TPG, Serra served on Merrill Lynch’s Energy Investment Banking Team. He also worked at Morgan Stanley Capital Partners and Deloitte."

“Tanguy’s experience will be a tremendous benefit to our organization. We are very excited to have him as part of our management team,” said Alex Dunn, the company’s COO. “The demand for additional energy-related services led us to launch this new division, and with his expertise, we will be able to provide innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy services to our growing customer base. Since the initial introduction of our energy-related services almost a year ago, we have seen an overwhelming response. We currently have more than 60,000 energy management customers and an adoption rate for energy management services of 45 percent.”


Stanley/Niscayah deal clears one anti-trust hurdle

Friday, July 22, 2011

A couple updates on the Stanley Black & Decker offer for Niscayah  from the earnings call this week. Stanley EVP and COO James Loree, said “the mandatory waiting period under Hart-Scott-Rodino expired, so the U.S. has given us the green light for the transaction as it relates to antitrust. EU approval is still pending.” (quotes in this blog are courtesy of Seeking Alpha.) Loree said Stanley expects to get EU approval this week. The next step is a 30-day waiting period during which time shareholders can tender that shares. If 90 percent of shares are tendered, “the offer will go unconditional, and we'll close shortly thereafter.”

I have a call into investor relations at Stanley, but haven’t heard back yet.

When will IP video sales take the lead?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Will 2014 be the year that sales of network video surveillance equipment finally surpass analog? IMS Research sent out a press release today saying that’s the year.

“IMS Research forecasts that the growth of the network video surveillance market and the decline of the analog market will lead to a transition in 2014, with network video overtaking analog in terms of sales revenue. However, it should be noted that in terms of shipments, analogue cameras are forecast to continue to outsell network cameras in 2014,” the release said.

IMS issued a report, “The World Market for CCTV and Video Surveillance Equipment – 2011 Edition” that says the “world market for video surveillance equipment continued to achieve strong growth in 2010 ...  driven by sales of network video surveillance equipment.”

During 2010 analog sales were” relatively depressed in 2010,” the release says, but the network video surveillance market grew “almost three time as fast as the total market in 2010, over 30 percent.”

IMS's Gary Wong estimated that if the “Chinese analog video surveillance equipment market was removed from the equation, both the EMEA and the Americas analog markets contracted in 2010.”

The decline of the analog sales is due to two factors, IMS said: large/enterprise customers transitioning to network video surveillance solutions;  and, lower prices in the mid-low tier of the analog market.

Network video sales are helped by bolstered by government stimulus-funded projects and more “higher value network video surveillance products, such was HD cameras.”


Association's have a lot going on...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I was going through my email this morning and I have to say, I'm digging what the associaitons are doing these days with outreach.

I enjoyed reading my latest edition of Signals last week where I learned that Major General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, founder, chairman and president of award-winning biometrics-based access control company FST21, will present the Keynote Address at CSAA’s Annual Meeting in Venice this October.

I've met with and interviewed General Farkash a couple different times, at ISC West and at ESX. Talk about a guy with a presence. If you have the travel budget to go to Venice, that will be a talk not to be missed.

When I talked with Farkash in Charlotte, he explained to me that the real-life, political setting in Israel and his experience in the Israeli military helped to forge a company and solution that had to work, and had to work quickly and well.

Farkash explained the impetus for the SafeRise solution to me in Charlotte.

"Every day there are 40,000 Palestinians who come to work in Israel," Farkash told me. "How do you find the one suicide bomber without making everyone feel they're not welcome to come and work?"

I've written about FST21's smart building solution SafeRise a number of times and even took the ssnTVnews cameras on the road to visit and installation. It's a slick solution.

Here's a little bit from Signals:


Farkash has held numerous prominent positions with the Israel Defense Forces in his distinguished 40-year career of public service. From 1990-1993, he headed the prestigious Israel SIGINT National Unit (8200), after which he held senior positions in the Planning Branch for five years. Promoted to the rank of general in 1998, he subsequently served as head of the Technology & Logistics Branch until 2001. He was then appointed to lead the Directorate of Military Intelligence (Aman), where he served until retiring from the IDF in 2006.

I also liked looking through ESA's Integrator, the current edition of which has a legislative focus. The first item on that mailing is the State Legislative Report, brought to us by ESA's director of government relations John Chwat. I had a chance to sit down one-on-one with John at ESX recently, and he told me about one of his primary foci as of late.

"We have a primary federal bill that would permit ESA members ... to access the FBI database for criminal background for licensing ... we have a bill--HR1331--that would allow non-state governmental bodies, or non-law enforcement entities--in other words the security industry, which would normally need to go through congress to gain access to the FBI database--to gain access ... We have nine cosponsors so far and it's bipartisan ... My main concern was I wanted to secure initiall support from the FBI to gain acess, and we got that."

Here's a little bit from the Integrator on what the 2011 State Legislative Report covers:

The June 1 - July 1, 2011 State Legislative Report, researched and compiled by the ESA Government Relations department, is now available online. You can access the report at from the Members Only Resource Center. To access the report, you will be required to log in using your member user login and password.

Included in this state legislative report are the following key issues being monitored:

19 bills related to Licensing

19 bills related to Fire Sprinklers/Suppression Systems

13 bills related to Alarms

8 bills related to Automatic Contract Renewal

4 bills related to CCTV

5 bills related to Taxes

3 bills related to State Regulations

2 bills related to Contracts

1 bill related to Electronic Monitoring Devices

1 bill related to Lighting 1 bill related to Exit Doors

1 bill related to Fire Districts

1 bill related to Emergency Communications

1 bill related to Private Security Companies

That's a lot of information! Sign up for the Integrator and Signals and don't get left out.

I also have been enjoying reading through SIA's Daily Update, which while not original reporting, sure does collate and centralize some pretty cool and topical security-related news stories. One in particular caught my attention today:


Police Deaths Up 14% This Year

For the second year in a row, law enforcement fatalities rose sharply nationwide during the first half of 2011, including 40 officers killed by gunfire—the highest number in two decades, according to a release.

It's always concerning to hear (in this case the SIA blurb is from a USA today story) about an uptick in crime, particularly violent crime towards police officers. No wonder PDs are so willing to throw their support behind solutions that are fortified with video or audio verification. It could be the difference between life and death. I got an email from RSI's Keith Jentoft recently in which Keith forwarded on a notice from the Washoe County, Nevada Sheriff's Dept. The notice concerns a change in response policy to alarms. Here's a bit from the notice:

Because the vast majority of intrusion alarm responses are for false alarms, Patrol Deputies will no longer respond to residential or commercial alarms unless there is additional information from a responsible party that indicates an actual crime may be in progress or have occurred.

I asked SIAC executive director Stan Martin what he thought and here's what he told me:

Sheriffs have much more flexibility with how they run things ... so this type of significant change is unlikely in a municipal or city setting ... City councils/managers are more demanding and chiefs work for them who in turn represent the citizens ... However, I do believe we will be seeing more departments moving in this direction, more subtle--a bit at a time ... budgets are tight, resources diminishing--all of them are asked to maintain services with less ... you can only divide a pie into so many slices ... This is why it is imperative that dealers do everything they can to reduce alarm dispatches ... top three 1) 2-call verification 2) Use ANSI SIA CP-01 approved control panels 3) Train all users of the alarm system properly

I've also talked with the guys over at SIAC recently who have been busy in California lately. Look for that story on our site today.