AICC asks for ‘orderly transition’ from POTS

In response to AT&T’s recent request to the federal government that it be allowed to drop traditional landline phone services in favor of broadband and IP communications, Louis T. Fiore, chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee, sent a letter late last month to the Federal Communications Commission asking for an “orderly transition” to these new communication technologies to ensure a smooth switch for those who rely on “plain-old-telephone-service’ or POTS for their alarm systems.

While recognizing the potential benefits of broadband communications for the alarm industry, such as faster signal transmission and the ability to offer video and other services, the AICC, which represents the Electronics Security Association, the Central Station Alarm Association and the Security Industry Association, believes the switch needs to be gradual to allow for enough time to ensure broadband compatibility with existing solutions.

“Approximately one-third of Americans today live in, work in and go to premises where security systems are utilized. Accordingly, many Americans would be impacted if the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is retired before there is a thorough understanding of how it is relied upon everyday in security applications to protect them from harm,” Fiore wrote. “The wholesale conversion of the PSTN to packet-based voice services provided by broadband providers must be ‘managed’ so that compatibility can be maintained, thus assuring that life-safety systems are not rendered useless.”

Fiore also said that it is important that these alternative forms of communications meet established industry codes. For example, the AICC chairman pointed out that many consumers risk having a claim denied by their insurance company if they migrate to a non-code Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP)-based phone systems.

Last week, SIW spoke with several dealers in the industry to get their perspective on the proposed switch and while there were some concerns, many were in favor of the move.

“We’ve seen this coming for quite sometime,” said Dave Whittington, manager enterprise group for South Carolina-based Blue Ridge Security Systems. “For us, to hear (about AT&T’s request), we’re probably not you’re average respondent in that, that’s fine because now at least the truth is truly going to be borne out.”

Fiore also supports the move as long as it’s gradual. “The AICC sees great potential for the use of broadband and IP-based communications in connection with alarm services,” he said. “However, the ability of the alarm industry to rely on broadband and IP-based communications will be hindered if all aspects of the communications path are not reliable.”

Click here to read Fiore’s entire letter to the FCC.