Monitoring Your Alarm System Over the Internet Could Be Risky

Posted by , , at 10:30 am

I recently read that 700,000 traditional phone lines are canceled each month in the US. The trend away from traditional phone lines is described in this news article, and follows two main paths:

  • A “cell-only” solution, with no physical phone line. Younger folks are driving this trend, with more cell-only households every month.
  • VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) – think Vonage and its competitors, where phone traffic flows over the Internet, instead of using an old-fashioned phone line. I have VoIP in my own home, as part of a “bundled” package (cable, broadband Internet, and Internet phone).

What does this mean for your alarm system? Not good news. Most alarm systems were designed for use with a hard copper line, and most of the systems in use today still use that old and vulnerable technology. In fact, plenty of folks keep that old phone line just so their alarm systems can communicate to the monitoring center. Not only are they wasting money: it’s just not safe or reliable. Bad guys cut phone lines all the time. Unfortunately, they also cut Internet connections.

The alarm industry has reacted to the disappearance of copper phone lines. The better companies offer a cellular monitoring connection – and readers of this blog know from my posts that this is the only safe solution. The other solution is to send the alarm signal to the monitoring center over the Internet. Many VoIP providers advise consumers not to do this: the companies recognize that their networks were never designed for carrying “life safety” traffic, and they really don’t want the liability. In fact, the VoIP companies often steer consumers to cellular monitoring (see the Vonage disclaimer, with referral to Alarm.com – FrontPoint’s cellular provider).

The Case against Internet Monitoring

1)      It’s just as easy to cut an Internet cable as a phone line – they are usually in the same place on the exterior of the home or office. Ten seconds, and a $5 pair of wire cutters…

2)      Internet providers (like Vonage) are the first to recommend a safer solution – like cellular monitoring!

3)      If you lose power, your alarm system still works, but it cannot communicate to the monitoring center – unless you are that rare person willing to spend the money on secondary power for your Internet connection. And that’s when you really want your system working!

4)      Internet service does go down, and some modems and routers need to be reset after an outage or power loss. All this can interrupt your protection – and your peace of mind.

Since our inception, FrontPoint has led the charge with interactive, wireless home security. While other companies offer cellular monitoring as an expensive upgrade, FrontPoint is the only company that provides cellular monitoring with every system we sell, included with the equipment and in the monthly charge. It’s the right solution for everyone – and, there are  no strings (or wires) attached!

 

Comments (3)

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  1. Brian

    What happens to the cellular alarm if someone uses a cell phone jammer? How can it communicate with the control station?

    Wouldn’t it be better to have a internet heartbeat system that communicates with the alarm ona regular basis. At least we would know when the internet is down.

    • Cassandra Dobkins

      Brian – Thanks for reaching out to us. While it’s highly unusual that even a full-time burglar is going to have a cell jammer and the skill and knowledge to use them. And for what it’s worth, in over twenty years in this industry, Peter has never heard of someone successfully jamming a cellular alarm system. It’s much more likely that they will have a $3 pair of wire cutters, and that they will cut any phone lines and Internet connections as a matter of course, since that is how most alarm systems communicate.

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