Digital Phone Service

A Warning about the compatibility of digital phone service & security systems in Orlando

Will digital phone service make your security system fail?

A growing number of people consider switching to digital phone service every day in an effort to save money. Something you may not be aware of, however, is that many security system clients have gotten a rude awakening after they switched to digital phone service (also called Voice over IP).

Their security systems could no longer communicate with the monitoring center!

Because we want you to make an educated decision, we are presenting this overview regarding the compatibility of digital phone service and security systems in the Orlando area.

The issues between digital phone service & security systems

There is a big difference in the way your traditional analog telephone service and digital phone service transport information. Digital phone service is run over broadband connections and its providers use the Internet to send calls from one part of the country to another. Analog phone service is typically more stable than digital phone service. Case in point: how often does your cable go out? And how few times have you picked up your analog telephone and not had a dial tone? You can expect to lose digital phone service at least as often as your cable goes out.

Why are we concerned?

Because of the way a loss of digital phone service can impact our customers' safety. When your digital phone service goes out, it cannot transmit signals from your security system to the monitoring center. That means your panic button, smoke or intrusion alerts won't get through and you'll be left stranded!

  • Reliability - Voice over IP equipment may not have a backup power supply or it may have limited power (usually 4 hours or less). Likewise, without a redundant power source from the Voice over IP provider you could be left with no way for your system to transmit emergency signals.
  • Downtime - Analog phone lines typically work 99.99% of the time. Unfortunately, a Voice over IP line does not.
  • Power Outages - When the power goes out due to a storm or other situation, your analog telephone line normally still works. This means, your security system will also be able to transmit during brief power outages. After this last volley of hurricanes in Orlando, there were a lot more people with telephone service than with cable service. This was mainly due to the fact that telephone lines are typically buried as opposed to cable lines that run underneath the power lines on poles. If a tree takes down a power line it will more than likely take out the cable line as well.
  • 911 – There are two types of 911 services: basic and enhanced. Basic sends only your telephone number when you call. Enhanced sends your name, address and telephone number. If you have digital phone service and there is a prolonged network outage you will not be able to call 911. Additionally, some of the Voice over IP providers do not comply with enhanced 911 services. This means that - if you call 911 and are unable to speak - dispatchers will have no way to locate you because your information will not be automatically displayed. Likewise, if you move and do not notify your digital phone service provider, your old address may remain in the 911 call center’s database causing help to be sent to the wrong address.
  • Compliance - Telephone company analog lines fall under the regulatory compliance laws of the Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) to ensure reliability and compatibility. Voice over IP is not required to meet any standards.

What Can Orlando Residents Do About This Voice over IP / Security System Problem?

In our 28 years of monitoring security systems in Orlando, we have found analog telephone service more reliable than either cellular or digital phone service because it is not as affected by adverse weather conditions. However, if you feel digital phone service is the calling solution for you there are several of things you can do to keep your security system fully functional.

  • 1) Maintain An Analog Line for Your Security System - Switch to digital phone service for your long distance calling, but retain an analog line (with no advanced calling features) for your security system to operate through. You could also operate a fax machine or satellite TV receiver through this line
  • 2) Add A Wireless Gateway To Your Security System - Top Security of Orlando customers can also add a wireless gateway to certain GE security systems. These gateways can function without a telephone connection. (It is always advised that you have a backup means of communication.) Read about the gateway here.
  • 3) Upgrade To A Digitally-Compatible Security System (that supports either CID or SIA formats). Older systems use pulse format and will not work with digital phone service. Read about our new security systems here.

We're here to help. If you are a resident of Orlando or the surrounding area and have questions about the use of digital phone service with your security system, please feel free to contact us for additional information.