IRVING, Texas, July 25 /PRNewswire/ -- More than one million consumers in the United States may be impacted when cellular carriers are no longer required to provide Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) service to more than 26 million alarm systems. Because of the potential impact to security systems that rely on AMPS technology, the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association is urging consumers to contact their alarm company to ensure continued response to intrusion, fire and/or medical alert alarms.
AMPS is the analog mobile phone system standard used today by most cellular alarm communicators. Because of the cost and benefits of digital, the major telecommunications companies plan to go to all-digital service and phase out AMPS.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established a sunset date of Feb. 18, 2008 for the requirement that cellular carriers provide AMPS service. This date is significant for any consumer with an alarm system that utilizes cellular communicators for relaying alarm signals, because after that date, carriers may terminate AMPS service. The result for consumers could be a lack of response to an intrusion, fire or medical alert alarm.
The FCC recently denied the alarm industry's attempt to extend the deadline to 2010. "We've been warning our member companies for some time to take action. Now with the certainty of the 2008 deadline, we are asking consumers to be proactive and make sure that their systems won't be affected," said NBFAA President George Gunning .
Monitored alarm systems often use a primary and a secondary means to contact a central station for response. While land line connections through the phone system are the primary means of communicating an alarm, it is estimated that more than one million systems rely on AMPS-based technology for the cellular backup in the event a land line is cut or not operating. Many consumers also rely on AMPS-based systems for the primary communications in the event of an emergency. According to a survey of NBFAA member companies, 92.5 percent of alarm providers use AMPS-based cellular alarm radios to serve at least some of their customers, and approximately 70 percent use analog radios to relay fire and/or intrusion alarms. A substantial number of alarm providers use AMPS radios to transmit medical alert signals as well.
Although under the current laws, AMPS service is expected to be maintained by the cellular carriers until February 2008 , in actuality, the closer the deadline is, the more likely there will be service degradation. That is why NBFAA has been urging their members to plan for this inevitable transition, and why the association is now warning consumers to contact their alarm company to find out what they should do to ensure continued service.
"For more than two years, we have been actively urging our members, who represent more than 2,500 alarm companies across the country, to make a swift transition from AMPS-based networks to ensure the continued safety of their customers. We can only hope that the majority of alarm dealers/integrators have heeded prior warnings and have already begun to take action. For many, this transition is a daunting task, but the repercussions of falling short of a complete and successful transition of all customers could be devastating," added Gunning.
NBFAA, a non-profit 501(c) 6 trade association, is the nation's oldest and largest organization dedicated to representing, promoting, and supporting the electronic life safety, security, and systems industry. Member companies specialize in services to commercial and residential consumers, including security and fire alarms, video surveillance, access control and monitoring.