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VoIP and home security systems don’t play well together

By Layer 8 on Wed, 02/14/07 - 2:53pm.

There is an ongoing story that consumer VoIP services can cause your home security alarm system to malfunction or not work at all. A news article here, brought up the problem with customer phone systems in Canada who were using Primus but Vonage customers in the U.S have complained too. And a number of sites have popped up offering suggestions to help deal with the problem. The situation isn't all that surprising as the nature of VoIP has left other emergency services wanting - for example, e911. According to the Allied Fire & Security firm firm, some of the reasons VoIP and security systems may be incompatible include:

* VoIP requires continuous power. If you lose power, you will not be able to use any phone connected to VoIP. More importantly, the security system will not send a signal to your monitoring center.

* Software changes to the alarm system or updates from the service provider could render they system useless.

* VoIP does not offer the same quality of service as direct telephony connections do. There are problems with connectivity, security, disability access, and emergency access.

* Many VoIP connections may not properly handle outgoing calls from fax machines, TiVO boxes, satellite television receivers, conventional modems or fax modems. These devices depend on conventional voice-grade telephone lines for some or all of their features. What can be done? Well some service providers offer workarounds offering a cell or second hard line alternative. But hardwired land lines seem to be the most solid answer for now anyway. Have you had any problems?