ADT Working with Service Providers on VoIP Alarm Signals Concerns

Just two weeks after Brink's Home Security and cable, Internet and VoIP provider Comcast announced a partnership with cross-training for customer service staff and a special sales offer for residential customers (see earlier story on SIW), ADT is making a similar announcement.

The company announced this morning that it has been working with an extensive list of facilities managed network providers, including Comcast, plus Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Charter, Cox and Bright House Networks. The alarm services company has tested those companies' networks and deemed that their IP networks will properly support ADT alarm monitoring.

When voice over Internet protocol (aka VoIP) was first released, many of the VoIP systems were ones like Vonage, which ran on top of a customer's network, which usually weren't designed and managed with the sustainability of alarm systems in mind. In addition, many customers switched to VoIP services without thinking how it would affect their alarm system, which were designed around the "always on" nature of a "plain old telephone system". With the VoIP systems, when power was down, so was the network connection at the users' end, and thus the ability for an alarm signal to send out a signal.

But with more and more cable companies getting into the business of providing Internet service to their customers, alarm equipment makers and installers found that the Internet networks of these providers were "facility managed," meaning that the calls will be sent over private networks, rather than the public Internet that non-cable VoIP providers often use.

ADT created a list of characteristics it sought from network providers to ensure support of alarm systems. ADT looked for:

- whether the provider has a managed and maintained physical facilities network with major and minor disaster recovery plans in place that include specific network power restoration procedures

- whether the provider makes available professional installation of its IP-based phone service that preserves primary line seizure for alarm signal transmission

- whether the provider's physical facilities network provides real-time transmission of voice signals, carrying alarm formats unchanged

ADT said that if VoIP provider has not let ADT know that it can meet those characteristics, ADT will require its customers to keep the POTS line or add a cellular back-up.

"ADT recognizes the customer benefits associated with alternative phone services including VoIP, digital phone and other IP-based phone services," said ADT's Chief Operating Officer John Koch in a prepared statement. "We also recognize that not all of these services are created equal.