Say Goodbye to your Copper Phone Line!

Posted by , , at 8:44 am

There was much hoopla surrounding the release of this year’s 376-page National Broadband Plan from the FCC – the comprehensive plan covered issues from education to public safety to energy management to transferring medical records via the internet. Harder to find in the document is a treatment of traditional copper phone lines – the same phone lines that over 90% of today’s alarm systems use to communicate an alarm to the central station. Although only 25% of US homes have a monitored alarm system, the fact that so many (over 10 million systems, by most accounts) still rely on a copper phone line is a big challenge to the alarm industry service providers.

What is even more interesting (to the folks here at FrontPoint) is the fact that prior to the FCC plan being issued, AT&T had already petitioned the FCC to drop the requirements for maintaining these traditional phone lines, and went so far as to request a deadline from the FCC for completely phasing them out. Here is a link to an article on the AT&T petition:

http://www.intomobile.com/2009/12/30/att-petitions-fcc-to-abandon-landline-phone-connections/

Depending on whose statistics you read, copper phone lines are disappearing at a fantastic rate – several hundred thousand per month, which translates to millions per year. In their place are homes that are cell-only, or homes that use VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol”). It makes sense that FrontPoint would be all over this news, since we are the leader in 100% interactive, wireless security systems. Every day new customers find us who are worried about an intruder cutting their phone line, and who are getting rid of their local phone line – they need a 100% cellular solution, and FrontPoint is the only alarm company in the US to provide this !00% of the time.

In many cases people can offset their monitoring fees by getting rid of a copper line. When you throw in the discounts on homeowner insurance for a monitored alarm system, especially if you opt for fire monitoring, it just makes sense to select cellular monitoring. And when it comes to peace of mind, it’s great to know that a burglar with a $5 pair of wire cutters can’t take out your alarm system. Some recent offerings in the home alarm arena rely on the VOIP connection, which is just as vulnerable as a copper phone line.

So, go cellular! It’s not just safer: it is the future!

Comments (4)

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  1. Alan

    Interesting observations and perspective, Peter.

    But I must add, this FCC is a joke, largely a puppet of the big telecoms and MSOs (cable companies). The FCC tries to mouth the right things, but the bottom line is, their regulations rarely have any real teeth these days… including the latest rules forthcoming in a month or two. Our whole government is now way too beholden to special interests. But I digress.

    And before I add the main point of my comment, let me just state that yes, for security, a regular phone line — in most cases (with easily accessed outside wires to cut) — is virtually worthless. So yes, I definitely want my wireless security system (the in-home control panel) to communicate via cellular to the central monitoring station, and NOT by phone.

    BUT… for many (perhaps most) life-safety related emergency situations, a traditional telephone line is very hard to beat. When the power is out, the phone (line) is usually on, for example (so if you have at least one simple, line current phone in the house, you’ll be good).

    If you’re having a heart attack, and you have only a few seconds to dial 911 and have it go through, and there was a choice between your cell phone and a traditional landline, what would you choose? Well, most of us, having some sense of the relative reliability of the two choices, would instantly choose the landline. Yes, you guys have a panic pendant that works great, but still, I would like to have BOTH options. Unlike a burglar, with a medical emergency, there are rarely people out to “get you” and cut your lines at just the right time, that’s the difference in importance and relevance of traditional phone lines in these other life-safety applications.

    Bottom line is, these companies just want out of the requirement to provide wired switched phone service because it’s somewhat expensive, and everything is now controlled by short term thinking, shareholders, and the almighty dollar. I absolutely do not see this as a positive development at least in the intermediate term. Maybe in the long term somehow.

    All just personal opinion, YMMV.

  2. Alan

    Interesting observations and perspective, Peter.

    But I must add, this FCC is a joke, largely a puppet of the big telecoms and MSOs (cable companies). The FCC tries to mouth the right things, but the bottom line is, their regulations rarely have any real teeth these days… including the latest rules forthcoming in a month or two. Our whole government is now way too beholden to special interests. But I digress.

    And before I add the main point of my comment, let me just state that yes, for security, a regular phone line — in most cases (with easily accessed outside wires to cut) — is virtually worthless. So yes, I definitely want my wireless security system (the in-home control panel) to communicate via cellular to the central monitoring station, and NOT by phone.

    BUT… for many (perhaps most) life-safety related emergency situations, a traditional telephone line is very hard to beat. When the power is out, the phone (line) is usually on, for example (so if you have at least one simple, line current phone in the house, you’ll be good).

    If you’re having a heart attack, and you have only a few seconds to dial 911 and have it go through, and there was a choice between your cell phone and a traditional landline, what would you choose? Well, most of us, having some sense of the relative reliability of the two choices, would instantly choose the landline. Yes, you guys have a panic pendant that works great, but still, I would like to have BOTH options. Unlike a burglar, with a medical emergency, there are rarely people out to “get you” and cut your lines at just the right time, that’s the difference in importance and relevance of traditional phone lines in these other life-safety applications.

    Bottom line is, these companies just want out of the requirement to provide wired switched phone service because it’s somewhat expensive, and everything is now controlled by short term thinking, shareholders, and the almighty dollar. I absolutely do not see this as a positive development at least in the intermediate term. Maybe in the long term somehow.

    All just personal opinion, YMMV.

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