Alarm Signal Communication

What you need to know about signal Communication between your Alarm System and our Monitoring Station

We feel that Wireless (cellular) communication is the best possible option for alarm communication when using a single path - or we can incorporate this as a backup means of communication. Below is information about the current communication options available - along with some associated problems with each.

Be sure to scroll down to see video at the bottom of this page!


POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service)

also called "Copper" because of the copper wire connection

  • Analog-based communication.
  • Provided by traditional telephone company, unless they have converted your service to Fiber-Optic (FTTx).
  • Powered off-site by traditional telephone company, unless they have converted your service to Fiber-Optic (FTTx).
  • With the popularity of cell phones, POTS lines are becoming obsolete. More and more people are living in homes without landlines. Traditional telephone companies are lobbying to end analog-based communication service because it is so much more expensive to maintain (since off-site battery banks are no longer used) compared to digital-based communication service which can handle data transfers at a high speed (see VoIP in next section below).
  • Telephone company installation usually exposes wiring & equipment outside allowing someone to cut or disconnected service, preventing your alarm from sending signals.
  • Most people assume that we know as soon as someone disconnects or disables your service, but we cannot know unless there is a backup means of communication (dual path).

VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)

  • Digital-based communication using the Internet and specialized equipment.
  • Provided through either a Non-Managed Network Provider such as an Internet-based service (BasicTalk, magicJack, netTALK, Ooma, Vonage, etc.) which is known to garble signals to the monitoring station if it even reports them at all -OR- a Managed Network service provider such as fiber optic and cable TV companies (Bright House, Comcast, Cox Cable, Digital Communication Media, FiOS, Florida Cable, Prism, Time Warner, U-Verse, etc.), which is more reliable since it is provided through their own managed network.
  • Powered on-site by your electrical system. When power is lost, alarm signals cannot be sent unless utilizing a reliable alternate source of power such as a generator or battery backup (usually provided by a Managed Network service provider). If using battery backup, who will notify you when the battery needs to be replaced?
  • Equipment including battery backup can easily be unplugged by accident or on purpose, preventing your alarm from sending signals.
  • Installation is backfed from outside utilizing, which normally does not allow for the alarm to seize the telephone line.
  • VoIP service provider installation usually exposes wiring & equipment outside allowing someone to cut or disconnected service, preventing your alarm from sending signals.
  • Most people assume that we know as soon as someone disconnects service, but we cannot know unless there is a backup means of communication (dual path).
  • VoIP service may be cheaper for the customer to make calls, but if it is used for alarm reporting, the cost may be more than money.
  • On-premises telephone service equipment must not be powered by a switched outlet.
  • If your Alarm System utilizes a VoIP to call out and your Caller ID has been programmed to show your main number (instead of the number that is being used to call out), we very well may no longer be able to call into your system to make program changes if your phone numbers have been changed.

Changing telephone service for your Commercial Fire Alarm System from standard landline to Cable or Fiber:

  1. Your telephone provider needs to interface their equipment connection for the Commercial Fire Alarm System's (a) Dedicated telephone line AND (b) Backup telephone line at the Network Interface Device or Telephone Demarcation Block (depending on what you have) to ensure that the Fire Alarm System maintains line seizure. It must NOT be backfed from an existing phone jack.
  2. Per Florida Statute 69A-48.008, if you utilize a telephone service that requires an onsite powered device for the service, the service must (a) meet the criteria of a Managed Facilities-based Voice Network (MFVN) as defined in the statute and (b) provide a minimum of 8 hours of backup power for uninterrupted voice service to a Commercial Fire Alarm System.
  3. The Caller ID for the Dedicated Fire Alarm Line(s) Caller ID needs to be programmed to reflect the actual telephone number, NOT the main line for the facility.

IP (the Internet)

  • Digital-based communication using the Internet and a router.
  • Utilizes a special IP module for your alarm system - which is being made very popular by some very large alarm companies since it is the cheapest means for them to provide services.
  • Requires internet service with a modem/router.
  • Powered on-site by your electrical system. When power is lost, alarm signals cannot be sent unless utilizing a reliable alternate source of power such as a generator or battery backup. If using battery backup, who will notify you when the battery needs to be replaced?
  • Modem/Router and any battery backup for your modem can easily be unplugged by accident or on purpose, preventing your alarm from sending signals.
  • Internet service provider installation usually exposes wiring & equipment outside allowing someone to cut or disconnected service, preventing your alarm from sending signals.
  • If you utilize a Wi-Fi based Communications Module, relocating your Wi-Fi modem/router MAY cause you to loose connectivity – replacing your Wi-Fi modem/router WILL cause you to loose connectivity requiring you to re-enroll the Alarm System Wi-Fi Communications Module into the new modem/router.
  • If you utilize an Ethernet based Communications Module, relocating your modem/router will require you to unplug the connection to your Alarm System (you MUST reconnect the Alarm System to the Modem after relocation requiring you to run a new wire) - replacing your modem/router may cause you to loose connectivity requiring you to re-enroll the Alarm System Communications Module depending on how your Local Area Network is set up.
  • Most people assume that we know as soon as someone disconnects IP based service - not necessarily unless there is a backup means of communication (dual path).
  • IP monitoring may be cheaper for the customer, but the cost may be more than money.
  • On-premises service equipment (modem, router, etc.) must not be powered by a switched outlet.

Wireless (utilizing cellular communication towers)

  • Digital-based communication.
  • Utilizes a special Wireless module for your alarm system to utilize cellular communication towers just like your mobile devices.
  • This service can be used as a sole means of communication (single path) or as a backup means of communication if you utilize one of the other services above (dual path).
  • Even though it is powered on-site by your electrical system, it has a battery backup that is monitored by your alarm system so you know when the battery needs to be replaced.
  • No phone line or internet service is required and no worries about someone cutting a line outside to prevent your alarm from sending signals.
  • Wireless offers the best solution to quickly and effectively get reliable alarm reporting from an alarm system.
  • Wireless requires a reliable cellular signal from specific cellular provider at the installation location.
  • Since Wireless utilizes cellular communications towers, older technology equipment at cellular provider is repurposed to make way as newer technology is developed, requiring you to eventually upgrade your Wireless alarm system communication module. The first technology was Analog, then digital came on the scene offering 2G (G stands for generation), then 3G, 4G, etc.