When it comes to switiching phone service, the decision to switch is NOT so clear cut.
One of the most commons questions we face is about phone lines. Customers attempting to save a little money by bundling their phone, cable and internet always call with this question: Will my security system still work if I switch my phone line to VoIP (Time Warner)?
Answer: If you bundle your phone, cable and internet by switching to VoIP, your security system MAY still work – but it will be compromised.
How VoIP Affects Your Security System
VoIP DOES affect your security system! When security systems are connected to VoIP telephones services, your security service is compromised! Both VoIP and/or POTS telephone lines leave your security system vulnerable. The same is true for fax machines. Fax signals do not transmit well over VoIP telephone lines. There is good news though: There is a fix for these deficiencies.
What Is VoIP?
VoIP Is Voice Over Internet Protocol.
The key word here is internet. POTS or Plain Old Telephone Service phone lines that have been in use for decades supply power over the phone lines. With POTS lines, when you power goes out, your telephone has historically continued to work unless the physical phone line itself has been corrupted. The internet is still an emerging technology that doesn’t have the same redundancy when it comes to telephones. The switches used for internet traffic do not have backup power like POTS lines nor do internet providers supply power through the internet connections so there are many, many points in the system where the service can be interrupted. Even at a location that has a generator or UPS (uninterrupted power supply, if there is a power interruption miles away, your VoIP telephones can and often do go down.
Security Systems Transmit a Compressed Signal
Most security systems transmit a “compressed” digital signal that can often be scrambled over VoIP telephone lines.
Consider this analogy: An alarm signal is like a fire hose. The alarm panel communicator sends a compressed signal (for speed) so that it will fit through a garden hose and then the receiver at the central station expands the signal back to the size of a fire hose on the other end to decipher the alarm signal. Take that same analogy and compress that garden hose down to the size of a straw (internet). When it comes out the other end, many times, there isn’t enough of the signal left to expand back to an understandable message.
Problems With VoIP
We have seen alarm systems with VoIP telephone lines fail to communicate signals to us. We have seen them send signals that became so scrambled, that the data received was incorrect resulting on emergency personnel being sent to the wrong address. However, much like the recent change in “over air” television transmissions, VoIP telephones are the future. They require a much smaller, lighter band width to send a similar or even better signal. They are the wave of the fuure, but your security system needs to be updated as well.
Let Us Know If You’re Switching Phone Lines!
Despite the risks of VoIP, it makes sense for many customers to make the change. Letting us know that you’re considering this change to your phone service is key. In most cases we can service your existing security system and / or add a dedicated cellular phone line to ensure dependable communication. While there may be additional costs involved to modify your security system, those costs are generally far less than the average annual phone bill. In most cases, adopting VoIP while adding a back-up communication unit is far more affordable than paying for a traditional phone line. Plus, there are some really convenient options that come with this technology. Read more about those features here.