You may be familiar with the term DVACS – Digital Voice Access Control Systems – as a form of communication used in fire alarm monitoring and security and intrusion alarm monitoring. DVACS is an analog circuit, run by your telephone service provider (Bell Canada) which acts as a dedicated line for your security system or fire alarm monitoring system to communicate alarms to your monitoring company. DVACS is considered an Active form of communication by the ULC. We like to compare it to an “open pipe” between your facility and our ULC-listed monitoring station (Signals Receiving Centre – SRC). DVACS is a very secure product and a very stable method of communicating alarms from your facility to our SRC. DVACS circuits are still being maintained by Bell Canada, and new lines are able to be installed as of the writing of this post. This being said, the use of DVACS has declined substantially in the security and monitoring industry. Why?
There are a few reasons which this which we’d like explain in more detail here:
Fire Alarm Monitoring Equipment Manufacturers have ceased making product which can use DVACS communications methods
It is no secret that residential intrusion systems are the most prevalent type of system in the security industry. As you may imagine, DVACS Circuits are typically not used in these types of applications, and even the number of commercial properties which use DVACS is relatively small when compared to those that use digital dialers (phone lines), cellular or IP for communications. From an economical point of view, manufacturers have made a business decision to discontinue the manufacture of transmitters and DVACS modules in order. This allows them to produce one line of monitoring panels which can be certified to a number of different standards (with some minor modifications).
Thus, with no equipment being manufactured, it is impossible for companies like FMC to install new equipment for DVACS installations. The equipment we currently have on hand is utilized for servicing purposes, and as you can extrapolate even that will diminish over time to the point where DVACS equipment will be required to be upgraded should an issue arise.
Cost of DVACS Alarm Monitoring
DVACS circuits on their own are expensive lines to maintain, when compared to other security alarm transmission mediums – cellular, IP, etc. – and is on par with rates for a commercial phone line. DVACS rates are controlled by the CRTC, and rate increases are subject to review on an annual basis. However, in recent years, rate increases have been applied to these lines, despite the best efforts of FMC and our partnerships with our ULC-listed monitoring stations and CANASA.
Certifications of Alarm Monitoring Equipment that Uses DVACS
In addition to the product not being available for installation, the ULC has determined that, for the vast majority of equipment, only DVACS systems which have been in continuous service since December 31, 2009 are able to have “new” ULC certificates issued. Systems which have been installed since that time which previously had certificates issued can maintain those certificates, so long as the DVACS circuit remains and the facility has not changed monitoring providers. Thus, existing DVACS equipment must be upgraded to a newer type of communication should a consumer shift from another company to FMC, should a ULC certificate be required. If you have an existing DVACS system with FMC that needs a ULC Certificate (which does not have one issued currently), chances are FMC can provide one.
DVACS is an “Old” Technology
While robust, DVACS is an “older” technology which dates back into the 1990s. As mentioned earlier, it is an analog service and with the communications world moving to digital platforms, it is inevitable that the installations of new circuits will cease, much like what occurred with DVACS’ precursor “Class A” lines. Bell Canada will always be responsible for maintenance of these lines, even beyond an “end date” for installation.As of the writing of this post, Bell Canada is still installing new DVACS circuits where required.
We hope this information helps with your understanding of the “demise of DVACS” in the security industry. Other options do exist for monitoring, and some of those options are outlines in this blog post. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to CONTACT US.