FCC Not Backing Down on AMPS Sunset

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rejected a petition and movement driven by the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) on Tuesday, July 19, 2007, that would have extended the "sunset" on the AMPS cellular equipment. The deadline is currently set for Feb. 18, 2008.

The AMPS equipment was commonly used as a back-up communications system for alarm and security systems, but the analog technology has been replaced by digital communications systems in the cellular industry. That can be a confusing point for some, since seemingly digital systems, according to the Central Station Alarm Association, actually operate on analog channels. Compatible cellular communications is most centrally focused on GSM technology, a standard which has been around for over a decade, but which didn't see strong adoption in the cellular market until a few years ago, and which really has only seen adoption by the security and alarm industry in the last year and a half.

AICC Chairman Lou Fiore called the FCC's denial of the petition for an extension disappointing.

"The AICC is obviously disappointed at the decision not to extend the analog sunset," said Fiore. "We are evaluating the details of the Commission's decision and their options. However, we are encouraged that the Commission did decide to raise public awareness of the AMPS shutdown issue, and did grant our request to remind the cellular industry that their AMPS networks must remain viable through the sunset date. And we hope that the cellular industry takes Commissioner Adelstein's advice to heart by accepting the alarm industry's open invitation to have earnest negotiations over ways to minimize any adverse impact of the analog shutdown."

From an industry perspective, the main concern is whether monitoring and alarm servicing companies could get in touch with their customers quickly enough and schedule upgrade to one of the current technology communication systems, such as the new digital cellular radios. For many systems, having a workable back-up communications system is required.

There was encouraging news from the FCC, however. The commission promised to initiate a public-awareness campaign to drive system owners to initiate the replacement of their AMPS communication equipment. Additionally, operators of analog systems will need to contact analog users to notify them of the cut-off date.