Should telecom technicians be allowed to install security systems without additional licensing?
The Electronic Security Association (ESA) alerted the security industry of a court case occurring right now in Massachusetts that could be a watershed case for the industry. The issue is licensing and whether companies like Comcast and Verizon are breaking the law by not having their techs licensed. The Massachusetts Systems Contractors Association (MCSA) is fighting the current conditions to create a fair business environment.
Here's how ESA describes the situation: "MCSA contends that the two companies don’t meet appropriate licensing requirements. MCSA members who do security systems work have a state electrical license, have passed criminal background checks, and work for companies that are licensed by the Department of Public Safety."
ESA continues: "Comcast maintains that it is exempt from licensure laws, since its Xfinity Home system involves wireless connections and no electrical installation. Verizon says its Home Monitoring and Control service is a do-it-yourself system, and that customers ultimately are responsible for installing the plug-in equipment."
So, here's the question we have to raise for this case: Is the Xfinity system truly a DIY system where customers install it? If it's DIY, then why doesn't Comcast say this on its Xfinity website: "$300 savings with free activation and $199 installation." Why are they even mentioning the installation cost if this is just a do-it-yourself system? That seems to me to be a flat-out lie. It isn't DIY technology if you charge between $199 and $499 for a technician to show up and install the system (see Comcast Xfinity security system installation pricing page).
And if it's a DIY system installed by untrained techs or (God forbid) homeowners, what does that mean for the future of false alarms? Do you really think the Xfinity system (which is comprised of 4 window/door sensors, 1 motion detector, 1 wireless keypad, 1 touchscreen and 1 remote key fob) is appropriate technology for DIY installation, considering our often tenuous relationship with law enforcement over issues of false alarms?
Here's the situation as I see it. Licensing, background checks and superb training are costly, and yet our industry bears those costs because it creates professionalism and keeps our industry from becoming just another commodity. If Comcast and Verizon and the like want to play in this sandbox, they need to have the same licensing approval that the independent and regional security companies must achieve. If the courts don't enforce licensing and background check requirements, then the government fails our industry and America's small businesses.