What the End of the Wired Telephone Network Means for Security System Users

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 by under Monitoring, Security

Traditional copper phone lines, commonly known as the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), may soon become a thing of the past.

As consumers shift to more feature-rich wireless and IP-based phone options, landline use is on a steady decline, and the trend is only expected to continue.

Because of this, conversations have been escalating for years on the need to transition exclusively to IP networks in an effort to streamline network maintenance for telephone providers, better support changing consumer needs and encourage telecom innovation.

Here’s what you need to know about the PSTN sunset as a home security system owner.

AT&T Leading the Sunset Charge

In late January 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously voted to allow telecom providers to start testing the transition from PSTN to IP networks. The ruling was in response to a 2012 trial request from AT&T.

With a goal of retiring its analog landline technology by roughly 2020, AT&T provided details on a two-phase approach to pilot service migration in select geographic areas. While the first phase would be voluntary, the second would stop support of PSTN lines in certain areas—forcing residents to shift their services to cellular or IP-based offerings.

With approval granted by the FCC, AT&T’s first trials could begin as early as May.

Trial locations: West Delray Beach, Florida (Kings Point) and Carbon Hill, Alabama

(although specific locations have yet to be named). As these and other pilot programs rollout and are expanded to larger populations, the availability of wired telephone networks will gradually start to diminish.

The Security Tie-In

This technology sunset extends beyond your phone service. Many security alarms continue to run on plain old telephone service (POTS). This means that as PSTN lines retire, systems will need to be replaced or updated to cellular or IP models for security services to continue uninterrupted.

While it’s still early in the transitional phase, consumers who rely on landline-based systems should start looking at alternative options now to guarantee coverage later.

Cellular Security is a Solid Alternative

As we’ve discussed previously on the blog, wireless security systems do not rely on POTS to run, instead they operate through a dedicated cellular network (much like your cell phone does). In addition to taking landlines out of the equation completely, cellular-based systems also come with the added benefit of interactive services.

While the traditional PSTN was designed to carry voice data only, cellular networks can transmit much more. Because of this, they have more robust feature sets including:

  • Remote management and monitoring via any Internet-connected smartphone or desktop.
  • Streaming online video of your home or property.
  • Real-time mobile alerts based on preset security triggers.
  • Location-based services that are synced to the global positioning system (GPS) in your smartphone.
  • Home automation capabilities, including remote management of locks, lighting, and heating and cooling systems.
  • Home Intelligence services, providing real-time data of premise status, allowing end users to proactively control automated devices.

Install a cellular system to gain the convenience of interactive services, while future-proofing your security monitoring as PSTN lines are retired.

Does your security system rely on a wired telephone network to run? If so, contact Vector Security to discuss your upgrade options.

Image Source: John Richardson via Flickr


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