It is the end of the line for analog phone systems, which can leave alarm companies hanging out to dry trying to figure out if they need to replace costly alarm panels. With the impending shutdown of the analog telephone network; alarm monitoring companies nationwide need to come up with a game plan. It is more important than ever for security companies to equip themselves with the knowledge of what new technology solutions are available in the marketplace to help offset the costs of transitioning away from analog. With the biggest transformation facing alarm companies today being technological advances in communications, we can all agree that the traditional analog telephone network is on its way to a complete shutdown. Whenever a major technology, especially one with a long history of regulation, approaches the end of its life, being prepared and ready for the transition is the key to success. With any technological disruption comes major change, but alarm companies need to be able to adapt quickly to survive and thrive in the ever-changing world of technology.
In the past, traditional phone lines used circuit switching technology delivered over a copper line to send the alarm and data communication signals to the alarm monitoring company. Over the last couple of decades, technology-specific services have been migrating to packet switching over the public Internet in the form of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). VoIP is a telecommunication service that takes analog audio signals and converts them into digital data that can be transmitted over standard Internet connections. While this transition has provided the opportunity for tremendous cost savings and more reliable connections, VoIP protocols have been designed with voice service in mind. This means that traditional alarm panel and modem protocols are seen as no longer compatible with these technological improvements. These changes are sweeping across an array of industries including Security Installers, Fire Monitoring, Field Medical Monitoring, and Alarm Monitoring.
Current Challenges Facing Security Industry
As the analog network is growing closer to becoming obsolete; alarm companies are facing a myriad of challenges. The ever more rapid advancement and adaptation of new technologies has left a gap in legacy communication systems. E1/T1 and analog POTS lines are increasingly being replaced by Ethernet based VoIP systems, leaving alarm companies left with modem-based technology that can no longer work within the new infrastructure. With most telephony connections moving to VoIP, it can be costly for alarm companies to replace existing modems and alarm panels. Most are looking for a simple solution to help make a seamless transition without having to change their entire infrastructure.
Time is of the essence for alarm companies nationwide that rely heavily on equipment and endpoint devices that use modems to communicate. In most cases, these modems cannot be replaced due to the high costs associated with replacing the existing infrastructure. With new requirements for fire alarm control panels; the pressure is on them now more than ever to react quickly and find a cost-effective solution. With limited options out there, one company has done their due diligence and launched a revolutionary solution that offers a clear path forward for the industry.
VOCAL Throws Out Lifeline to Alarm Companies
VOCAL Technologies has been leading the way since 1986 in the design of software and hardware solutions under license for voice, video, and facsimile and data communications. The company develops and applies advanced technologies for superior voice, video, fax and data communications. With a broad range of innovative design solutions that yield the highest quality communications at the lowest cost and an insight into the technical challenges of the telecommunications industry; it was natural for them to develop a unique solution to help navigate companies through the VoIP revolution.
As the security industry continues to evolve and face many challenges with the move from analog to VoIP phone lines; VOCAL knew it was the right time to develop a combined software and hardware solution. Their goal was to throw out a lifeline to help alarm companies transition easier and more efficiently. With cloud-based modems now a firm reality; the VOCAL SIP Analog Modem Server, or SAMS, is a unique IP-based software solution for inter-operating with legacy modems without the need for modem banks with E1/T1 connections. This Virtual Modem Server allows a business to deploy a server in the cloud, which can work with the modern VoIP phone network infrastructure based on SIP and RTP, instead of using T1/E1 lines to connect to the PSTN. The Virtual Modem server contains true soft-modems and not just an AT command set on a TCP socket pretending to be a modem. This allows the server to connect to true voice band modems deployed on the PSTN, and thus does not require installation of additional equipment on the far end of the security system. Alarm monitoring centers are not left out of these significant advancements in communication infrastructure. Supporting industry standard alarm protocols including Ademco Contact-ID, Sonitrol, DC-03/FSK, Pulse, and SIA-2000, the modem server can also act as a virtual replacement for physical alarm receiver equipment. SAMS provides a true Modem over IP (MoIP) solution and can support a broad range of remote endpoints. Bringing in expertise from numerous industrial market sectors such as Utility Metering, Point of Sale payment processing, SCADA, Out of Band management, among others; SAMS is a perfect choice for alarm companies.
Even when traditional ISDN and POTS lines remain available, Alarm Receiver and Remote Access Server (RAS) equipment like the AS5350 has reached end of life and these vital business systems are left in a state where failure is imminent and quick repair or replacement are no longer options. This can happen with servers interacting with alarm systems and security panels. Countless M2M applications rely on data modems to accomplish their task and VOCAL has launched a few solutions to allow these applications to adapt to the changing infrastructure. VOCAL servers come in a variety of configurations which cover the full range of ITU V-series modems as well as many other industry standard modulations This allows it to fit easily into existing systems and flexibly meet the needs of already deployed infrastructure and applications. VOCAL continues to customize all solutions for customers and can meet specific system requirements when necessary.
When it comes to end-of-life modem products, VOCAL’s SAMS software is a great replacement solution for Cisco’s Access Servers (2500 series, AS5350), Cisco PVDM Digital Modem Modules (PVDM2-12DM, PVDM2-24DM, PVDM2-36DM), modem server banks, Alarm Receivers, and groups of individual hardware modems. VOCAL is helping alarm companies that are currently using ISDN for PSTN access to their modem servers as SIP based VoIP will be the replacement for ISDN. The cost savings brought on by switching from expensive ISDN and analog lines to VoIP has made the IP switchover a desirable transition instead of a painful requirement. Integrating the modem infrastructure and the SIP infrastructure has become more and more necessary. Ideally, running modems on the cloud server, connected to a SIP infrastructure would be the best scenario.
Using a Cloud Modem Server, such as VOCAL’s SIP Analog Modem Server (SAMS), allows alarm companies to get the benefits of the SIP infrastructure, without having to replace the legacy pieces of their alarm panels which can be costly. The server can run in the data center, where all of the company’s other network facing services reside, which can save money and facilitate changing business models that are moving away from physically located hardware and into remote virtual working environments. As the controlling application, the SAMS server is seen the same way as any other modem. The remote modems can call the SAMS server from the PSTN (or be called) as they always have. The SAMS server behaves as a bank of modems connected to ISDN would, all while running on off the shelf hardware or any standard virtualized environment.
Creates Open Line of Communication
In addition to their software solution, VOCAL also introduced an Analog Modem Adapter (AMA) to the marketplace, which is a device that enables analog modems and alarm panels to securely transmit data over digital networks. The AMA connects legacy alarm, POS, voice, fax and other analog devices to IP networks including mobile, radio, and satellite networks. This is a great option for alarm companies that have analog and modem-based equipment but no longer have phone lines available and want a secure connection. An AMA provides a modular phone jack and an Ethernet port where an analog device, such as a Digital Alarm Communicator Transmitter (DACT), can be connected to the modular jack to transmit directly over IP network. This eliminates the need for telephone landline connections. An AMA supports telephony features such as dial tone, device power, ringing and standard telephone signaling to communicate with the local modem. Combined with a SAMS server installation, VOCAL’s AMA creates a novel approach to bypassing the data and alarm protocol issues that are introduced by last mile IP connections and line emulation devices utilized in VoIP infrastructure. VOCAL’s AMA software is part of a fully integrated and highly configurable VoIP software solution with a network stack, SIP stack, secure communications, and full-featured telephony software with a comprehensive data modem software library.
VOCAL continues to work with alarm companies nationwide to help make the VoIP transition a smooth one with a combined hardware and software solution that is second to none. It is important for alarm companies to research the options available to them and continue educating themselves as the end of the line grows closer for analog phone systems. In the past, the security industry has always been on the forefront of adopting new technologies and with VOCAL on their team; the paradigm shift to VoIP can take place seamlessly. By bringing together a combined software and hardware solution; VOCAL has taken a technical disruption and turned it into a graceful transition for alarm companies that will keep the lines of communication open now and well into the future.