Ask the Security Alarm and Monitoring Expert

Feburary 2004 Issue Making Better Connections What will the impact of VoIP have on the alarm industry and specifically on monitoring? VoIP, or Voice-over-Internet Protocol, is a service by which voice or any analog data is...

The move to IP will lead directly to another tier of products from manufacturers. The DACT, as you know it, will either share printed circuit board space or be eclipsed by another type of product where signals are only sent digitally, directly by IP not using the medium of VoIP. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and NFPA, to their credit, are ahead of the curve and have accepted the concept of alarm signals using IP. NFPA 72 is codifying the use of IP in the 2002 edition of the National Fire Code.

Some manufacturers already are in production with high end or high security products for the IP market. These products need to be retooled and moved down to the lower end of the market such as residential and mini-commercial.

Yet another technology looming in the future is BPL or Broadband over Powerlines. This technology allows a power company to distribute broadband Internet service to its customers over the already existing power lines right into the home or office. It is accomplished by superimposing an encoded radio frequency signal on the power line. The signal is not meant to propagate over high-tension lines but over medium to low voltage lines: 12 kilovolts and less, down to 115 volts. Care is taken to bypass power transformers with appropriate devices. This will allow power companies to sell economical broadband Internet service, bundled with power.

The FCC is very enamored with BPL. One commissioner goes so far as calling it ?Broadband Nirvana.? Imagine not wiring a premises with CAT5 wire but having the internal power lines carry the signals! However, the radio community is concerned about the potential interference to radio reception. Tests to determine interference levels are being conducted at this time.

It is anticipated that the FCC will be issuing a Notice of Proposed Rule during the first quarter of 2004. The promise of this technology is to make broadband available especially to rural America. There will be more on this subject in the future, and the future definitely looks like an IP world.

Louis T. Fiore is a consultant from Sparta, NJ. He is Past President of CSAA (1997-1999) and President of L.T. Fiore, Inc. His practice includes the use of wireless and the Internet for alarm monitoring as well as regulatory issues for security systems in general. He also serves as Chairman of Central Station Alarm Association's (CSAA) Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) and Standards Committee. He is the current chairman of the SIA's Security Industry Standards Council (SISC) and a long- time member of the Supervising Station Committee of NFPA 72. Send your questions to