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A Note about POTS Sunset

The FCC’s Technology Advisory Council released a report on June 30th, 2011 addressing the inevitable transition from our nation’s current PSTN legacy network to an all IP infrastructure. The report finds that by 2014, United States consumers will have 31.6 million VoIP lines, accounting for 42.5% of all U.S. access lines. As the number of subscribers on the PSTN decreases, the cost per remaining customer increases. The report finds that maintaining the PSTN will quickly become untenable, and that an accelerated transition will not only generate significant economic activity, but actually lower total cost. The TAC recommends that the FCC begin to take steps to expedite the transition, with a target date for the elimination of the PSTN network set for 2018. The report explains that adoption of IP will happen much faster if manufacturers know there is a set date at which time they’ll no longer be able to rely upon the PSTN.

What does this mean?

Many alarm systems communicate over customer’s existing PSTN telephone service.  Digital communicators were engineered in the 1960s, when 1200-2400 baud communications were standard.  As many phone companies have updated their lines and switches, these communicators have had an increasingly difficult time communicating from the customer to the central station.  Eliminating POTS altogether will necessitate a new form of communication for all of these legacy systems.

Many Have Dumped Landlines

Many end users have already dumped their POTS lines in lieu of a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) system, such as Vonage.  Some legacy alarm systems can communicate over some VoIP systems, some may not.  None of these legacy systems were engineered to communicate over a VoIP connection.

Check with Your Alarm Company

Before switching to a VoIP phone line, including those offered by local cable companies, NESA recommends that you contact your alarm company and see how this change may affect your current alarm system.  There is a possibility that you will need additional equipment for your alarm system to be able to communicate reliably.  Options include using a system that is designed to communicate over the internet.  You may also want to consider using a cellular communicator, sometimes called a GSM or GPRS system.