From POTS to PANS

Don’t use plain old telephone service, do sse a preferred alternative network service


I admit that “PANS” is a bit forced, however if you are still installing burglar alarm panels using telephone dialers only you are forcing a square peg into a round hole. That hole, the marketplace, has changed over the last few years and installing the same old square peg is going to get harder and harder.

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) announced that for 2008 on average 17.5 percent of homes in the U.S. did not have a POTS line. That number is growing at roughly 3 to 4 percent per year. That means on average today in the U.S. one in five homes will not have a phone line for connection to your burg panel. Furthermore I find it interesting that some states have a much higher prevalence of wireless-only households. In some areas it is over 25 percent, nearing 30 percent.

This time of year everyone is doing strategic planning for 2010. Some dealers around the country need to calculate that in 2010 they could see one out of every three homes will not have a phone line. (See the details for your state by putting this link in your browser: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr014.pdf.)

Morgan Hertel, director of Central Station Operations for MACE said, “Society is moving to a wireless world and the alarm industry needs to follow. I have three children in their late 20’s all with their own homes, none of them have land lines they all use cell phone and services like Google voice. They don’t need or want hard lines and we as an industry need to adapt to it in order to remain relevant to the Gen X and Y coming up.”

At a recent Central Station Alarm Association meeting, it was reported that carrier Verizon didn’t think there would be any POTS lines in another eight to 10 years.

The Consumer Electronics Association reported in late 2007 that nearly 72 percent of all Americans have access to broadband Internet and 75 percent of homes in the U.S. with Internet have broadband access (http://www.901am.com/2007/us-broadband-use-up-says-ce-trade-group.html.) Pew Research Center reports that home broadband adoption is growing from 15 to 28 percent per year for the last three years and it has not been slowed by recent economic factors. Furthermore 85 percent of those with broadband in their home have a cell phone. (See http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2009/Home-Broadband-Adoption-2009.pdf.)

We all have witnessed the IP revolution over the past 15 years. IP communication continues to expand for burg panels, and looks to be the preferred method for many applications. It has been widely adopted and is the hands down best method for transmitting alarms to a central station. IP communication comes in a few different flavors but for the purposes of this article we’ll simplify them down to two: wired and wireless. As we know from the above data, wired IP is found in a high percentage of homes and businesses. Wireless IP is also growing exponentially and is a part of our lives every day in the form of our cell phones, credit card machines and dozens of M2M communication devices that we come in contact with unknowingly each day.

Hertel added, “We used to rely on dial up almost exclusively, if high security was required RF or multiplex was used. Now, with POTS going away or becoming unreliable we need to move with technology, just like in the late 70s and early 80s when the phone company said no more McCullough loop and direct wire, and then in the 90s with no more multiplex. So here we are today with the same thing, no more POTS. It’s just another evolution in alarm transmission.”

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