Always The Bad Guy

Oct. 27, 2008

Dear Readers:

Put three dealer integrators in a room together and the conversation these days turns to VoIP. When customers switch to voice over IP for their phone service from the cable company it affects alarm signals that normally report over phone lines.

Security Dealer invited three dealers to visit our Melville, NY offices to discuss trends in security. The dealers represented various levels of security professionals: from industry veteran Wayne Wahrsager, president, NY Merchants Protective Co., who operates a large commercial security business, to Ed Savarese, senior technician, Scanner Technologies, a company specializing in high end residential installs, and Jamie Lewin, partner, All American Alarms, who started from the ground up 3 years ago.

Gordon Hope, Honeywell VP Marketing and Business Development, was also there to introduce a product from Honeywell that addresses the current issues dealing with AMPS Sunsetting (another subject entirely but also a concern for alarm communications). He, too, got into the VoIP conversation. “The cable company is not the enemy,” he told the group. Hope is on a committee trying to work with the cable companies. He supports legislation that would require cable companies to inform subscribers about the effect VoIP service has on their security systems.

The three dealers each have their individual issues with VoIP but they all agree, the way the situation is currently being handled makes them look like the bad guy. They have to go to their customers with the news that their alarm systems are no longer working properly.

The situation will only grow worse. A new study from Kagan Research reports on the positive effect the accelerating rollout of Internet Protocol (IP) voice services is having on basic subscriber retention and overall revenue per subscriber. Kagan's Broadband Cable Financial Databook states: the Cable IP voice home market will go from 31.2 mil. at the end of 2005 to an estimated 68.7 mil. by year-end 2006; the Cable IP voice subscriber base has grown from 600K at year-end 2004 to 2.6 mil. at year-end 2005, and is forecast to jump to 6.5 mil. by year-end 2006.

Yet another development, this one in Texas , could signal more trouble for our industry. State Farm Insurance asked the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) several months ago to drop the home security discount for Texas customers. This could be the beginning of a trend where other insurance carriers will move to rescind home security discounts. When State Farm filed paperwork with the department to raise homeowner insurance rates by a statewide average of 20.8 percent, the company also said it was going to drop its home security discount, according to Texas Department of Insurance spokesman Jerry Hagins. State Farm's rate filing was not approved, so the home security discount remains in place, according to State Farm spokesman Steve Alberts.

Still the news got the attention of the Police Department in Amarillo , TX . Sgt. Randy TenBrink, Amarillo Police Department, states, “A mass of insurance companies stopping the discount could become a public safety issue. We don't like that from a security point of view.”—neither should you.

Susan A. Brady