Knowledge Base - Alarm Monitoring & VoIP

When considering how your alarm connects to the monitoring center it's important to consider that the connection in place today is probably not as safe as you would like it to be.

How does it work?

Alarm monitoring is often performed over a traditional phone line.

When an alarm condition is raised, or when the alarm system needs to perform maintenance such as software upgrades, the alarm system may seize a phone line to call the monitoring company and communicate.


What could happen?

Whether or not this works, depends on whether or not the wiring is in place correctly, and whether or not the system monitors for line failures and wiring issues. Simply bringing in a technician to move a fax machine or postage meter COULD affect the line used for the alarm - and most people don't think to test afterwards.

Often ignored is the simple fact that while a traditional phone line itself is very reliable, the way it might be connected to your alarm may not be reliable or secure at all. Access points are often located in utility (riser) rooms and basements and sometimes parkades. Building telephone closets are often opened for a variety of contractors and sometimes left unsecured and unattended. When this happens, anyone could disconnect your alarm (by accident or intentionally) leaving your business unprotected.

Regardless of whether VoIP is in use, the connection used for alarm monitoring needs to be secured. If a traditional (analog) phone line is used, the phone connection panels and wiring rooms need to be secured - and often this is outside of the control of the tenant.


What is the solution?

Alarm companies have paid a lot of attention to VoIP, and many seem to talk about the potential problems associated with using VoIP for alarm communications. While some alarms use a phone line, others use the Internet, or a private cellular connection.

We have seen many companies offer cellular monitoring for as little as $10 a month (there may be a hardware or set up cost, but some providers seem to reduce that for clients with a service agreement).

In general, an alarm system with more than one method of communication would be more reliable. Phone lines take time to dial and connect while Internet connected systems are always connected - and cellular connections can be made in seconds.

You need to make an informed choice and take action to ensure you are protected. Ask your alarm company what options are available and keep your alarm in mind when making any changes to your internal wiring.

It's worth finding out and confirming how you would know if your alarm monitoring is not working - does the monitoring company alert you? How often? Is this in writing? How do you test it?

If you are unsatisfied, it may be worth considering a new monitoring company.

Keep in mind that your alarm is a separate system and that your situation is unique. Only you may be able to be certain that other contractors and service providers are all working together to deliver the reliability you need.

If you have any questions, please contact us using the form below.

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