A basic guide to understanding the technology and using it to your advantage.

Part 2 Why use VoIP?

2 Reasons come to mind when asking this question…

First, saving money; lots of money. Most VoIP service providers offer some form of unlimited usage plan and they range in price from approximately $ 3.00 – $30.00 per month. Yes, that’s right – unlimited long distance for less than $ 3.00 per month.

This significant cost savings is because VoIP providers do not have the overhead costs of maintaining large networks. In addition, VoIP providers are not subject to the regulatory and tariff restrictions that are placed on traditional telephone carriers. VoIP providers are typically not required to collect the taxes and fees associated with traditional telephone service.

Because of the fact that VoIP is a digital technology, the feature set is extensive when compared to traditional telephone service. Some of the available VoIP features do not even exist in the traditional telephone market. One feature that is unique to VoIP is that of virtual telephone numbers. Since VoIP is not geographically based, providers are able to assign any area code that they have available to a given number.

A great example of this was my use of a virtual telephone number years ago when my parents lived in Florida. I had been a VoIP user for years when Sunrocket (now defunct) came out with a new feature; I could add a second phone number from their available pool anywhere in the United States. I added a telephone number that was local to my parents house in central florida. Not only could I call them as much as I wanted, but my parents could call me anytime as well.

What did it cost me?… $ 5.00 dollars a year. For $ 205.00 dollars a year, I could call anywhere in the United States as much as I wanted AND my parents could call me for free. Besides all the “standard” telephone features like call waiting, conference calling, multi-way calling, voice mail (Web based) and caller-id etc., another advantage you can get with VoIP is taking your telephone with you. That’s right, when traveling, you can have all the features of your “home” telephone with you. All I would do is take my telephone adapter when I traveled and plug it in with my laptop at the hotel or condo and I had free calls.

This feature is somewhat less exciting now that your cellular telephone can let you call coast to coast for free, but I was doing this years ago when we still payed for all our cell minutes.

So the cost savings and the features set make VoIP an obvious choice.

But what about the second reason?

Are Analog phone lines as we know it a thing of the past? Did you know that the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) has been tasked by Congress to formulate a National Broadcast Plan that will make broadband 100% available for all of the United States.

Yes, I know Section 214 of Title 47 of the Communications act of 1934 states; “No carrier shall discontinue, reduce, or impair service to a community, or part of a community, unless and until there shall first have been obtained from the Commission a certificate that neither the present nor future public convenience and necessity will be adversely affected thereby...”

Did you know that AT&T has already filed a 32 page motion (Dec 21, 2009) to the FCC to plan a “phaseout of circuit-switched POTS service and the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) is essential to achieving universal access to Broadband..” As stated in their motion;

“That transition is underway already: with each passing day, more and more communication services migrate to broadband and IP-based services, leaving the public switched telephone network (“PSTN”) and plain-old telephone service (“POTS”) as relics of a by-gone era.”

“Consumers today have more options for voice services than ever before. Over 99% of Americans live in areas with cellular phone service and approximately 86% of Americans subscribe to a wireless service. Many of these individuals see no reason to purchase landline service as well. Indeed, the most recent data shows that more than 22% of households have “cut the cord” entirely. As industry analysts have found, this trend away from landline service is accelerating, as secular and cyclical impacts force consumers to rethink the relevance of wireline.”

“At least 18 million households currently use a VoIP service and it is estimated that by 2010, cable companies alone will be providing VoIP to more than 24 million customers; by 2011, there may be up to 45 million total VoIP subscribers."

“Today, less than 20% of Americans rely exclusively on POTS for voice service. Approximately 25% of households have abandoned POTS altogether, and another 700,000 lines are being cut every month. From 2000 to 2008,the number of residential switched access lines has fallen by almost half, from 139 million to 75 million. Non-primary residential lines have fallen by 62% over the same period; with the rise of broadband, few customers still need a second telephone line for dial-up Internet service. Total interstate and intrastate switched access minutes have fallen by a staggering 42% from 2000 through 2008. Indeed, perhaps the clearest sign of the transformation away fromPOTS and towards a broadband future is that there are probably now more broadband connections than telephone lines in the United States.

” These trends are exacting a substantial toll on ILEC revenue from POTS service, which fell from $178.6 billion in 2000 to $130.8 billion in 2007, a 27% decrease.”

My belief is that copper analog telephone lines as we know them will be phased out in the next four to eight years. This means that the technology you have likely been using to monitor your alarm accounts for the last ten to fifteen years may soon be eliminated.

A good central station alarm monitoring company can help independent alarm installers like you with this transition. In part three of this series we will review what this means to your alarm system and customer retention.

Next we will review VoIP and Alarm Communications. READ NEXT >

For more information or to see how Command Alarm can help our independent alarm business succeed, contact us at: 855.226.7233 or INFO@COMMANDALARMMONITORING.COM

Mike Riley {} is DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL STATION OPERATIONS at Command Alarm Monitoring, a national central alarm monitoring service, servicing independent alarm installers nationwide.


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