What You Need to Know about Phone Lines & Your Alarm System

June 21, 2022 | By: mm-admin

In your facility, there are multiple communication methods for you to choose from.  One of the most used communication channels are phone lines, which utilize copper lines to transmit signals to your alarm monitoring station.

In recent years, it has been increasingly popular for buildings to change their traditional phone line system to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or other form of digital phone service.  While there are many benefits to these new methods, there are potential detriments that these phone lines may have on your alarm system’s ability to transmit signals to the alarm monitoring station.

Monitoring systems communicate with the monitoring station by using a series of beeps and DTMF tones (the tones used for dialing phone lines).  When using VoIP or a digital phone line, the signals become distorted, and as a result they are not recognizable by the “Receiver”.  This prohibits the alarm system from communicating with the monitoring station because the tones are distorted too much by the compression of the digital signals for the Receiver to understand what signals they are trying to deliver. Think about trying to have a conversation with someone who is in a bad reception area, this is what the Receiver is experiencing when trying to decipher the message that it is receiving.

VoIP and Digital Phone Service

As mentioned, VoIP and digital telephone services are growing in popularity for many reasons.  These technologies allow a building to utilize their phone through a broadband connection instead of using a traditional landline phone service.  However, there are two important factors to consider before making the decision to use VoIP or digital telephone service:

  1. With both VoIP and digital telephone service, your alarm system may lose its connection to the telephone service, rendering the system unable to send alarm signals to the central station. These methods of communication technology may also cause your alarm signals to get scrambled as they are sent to the monitoring station.
  2. Using a VoIP or digital telephone service, your system may be unable to send alarm signals consistently and reliably to the monitoring station.

As you can imagine, you may be at significant risk if your monitoring system is unable to transmit signals to the monitoring station.  As a result, we strongly encourage you to speak to your Client Service Representative before making any changes to your existing telephone service.  If you have already made the decision to switch to VoIP or digital phone services, please notify us after the new phone service is installed, and we will arrange to have a Service Technician to properly test your monitoring system and check the wiring.

Communication Methods

As we’ve outlined in previous blog posts, we have talked about active and passive forms of alarm monitoring, and the different types of channels available to accomplish these forms of monitoring.  As a summary, below are three of the most used methods of monitoring you may utilize in the industry:

  • Phone line – traditional phone lines use a copper line to send communication signals to the alarm monitoring company. The phone line is typically used by both the facility and alarm system.
  • GSM – signals use wireless digital transmission, just like your cell phone, to transmit alarm signals to the monitoring station.
  • IP – offers some of the greatest features for alarm users by connecting your alarm to the monitoring station via DSL, cable, or wireless Internet connections.

Ensuring the reliable transmission of alarm signals to the monitoring station is of the utmost importance.  Regardless of what communication method you use, we would be happy to discuss your options with you so that you can rest assured that your facility is being monitored.

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fire monitoring of canada logoFor over 30 years, Fire Monitoring of Canada (FMC) has been a leader in the monitoring of fire alarm and intrusion alarm systems.  If you would like to learn more about alarm monitoring and the benefits it can provide for your facility, please call 1 800 263 2534, email fminfo@fire-monitoring.com, or fill out the contact for below.