News Items Archive

Verizon Experiencing Technical Difficulty in Delaware County, PA


Thu 11/8/2018 3:09PM
Bryan Ginn, ASAP/IS Manager, The Monitoring Association (TMA) via ACCENT


Verizon is experiencing technical difficulty with their standard 10-digit number reserved for alarm companies. Presently, Verizon is unable to determine when full functionality will be restored.

The number temporarily out of service is 610-565-6500.

The alternate telephone number for incoming alarm company calls is 610-565-6575.

Click on link to see problems detected, outage map, comments, and Read More.


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3G Network Shutdown Planned for End of 2019


As the carrier gears up to launch 5G commercial services later this year, Verizon is also working toward a long-planned shutdown of its 3G network, which is slated to happen by the end of 2019. Now, according to a report in DroidLife, the carriers is no longer activating 3G devices.

“For several years we’ve been publicly saying that our 3G CDMA network will remain available through the end of 2019,” the carrier said in a statement. “Virtually all traffic on our network is now on our 4G LTE network. To facilitate a smooth transition to 4G LTE capable products and services, we are no longer allowing devices that are not 4G LTE capable to be activated on our network.”

Verizon sells a few different LTE feature phones for users that don’t want smartphone functionality. Device options include the LG Exalt and the Kyocera DuraXV.

Turning down legacy networks is nothing new. Last year AT&T stopped offering GSM-based 2G network services, which the company said would allow it refarm spectrum in the 850 MHz and 1.9 GHz bands towards its 3G network.

Getting rid of networks to support legacy devices can be a little tricky, particularly as it relates to internet of things devices. Tech consultant John Hickey, in a LinkedIn article, called out devices like credit card readers, remote monitoring tools, cellular routers and modems, internet failover devices and fleet monitoring solutions.

“Many companies have recently felt the pain of having to swap out legacy 2G devices for newer 3G or 4G devices,” he wrote. “This proved costly and painful as most companies failed to plan accordingly to get ahead of the shut down.”

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Comcast Dealing With Major Outage Nationwide

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A major outage is affecting Comcast customers nationwide, including in the Philadelphia market.

The outage is affecting Comcast cable, telephone and internet services.

Comcast tweeted to customers that they are working to restore services as quickly as possible, but it is not yet known when service will come back.

Comcast tweeted that a cut fiber is causing the outage.

“One of our large backbone network partners had a fiber cut that we believe is also impacting other providers. It’s currently affecting our business & residential internet, video & voice customers,” Comcast said.

Many people took to Twitter to sound off about the outage.

Click on link to see video, Twitter screenshots, and Read More.

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Customers report thousands of AT&T outages across the United States


POSTED 5:07 PM, NOVEMBER 15, 2017, BY 


ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – It appears that customers using AT&T for phone and internet are experiencing outages across the United States. The website DownDetector reports that customers in St. Louis, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Dallas are having problems.

The AT&T customer service Twitter account, @ATTCares, is receiving hundreds of calls for service in the last hour:

Outage Report says the problems began around 3:40pm with a high of 1,200 reports at 5:00pm.

AT&T customers who try to make phone calls are receiving either a “Call Failed” message or a recording that the call can’t be completed as dialed.



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Monitoring for fire alarms: Are you ready for change? What you need to know

New England Real Estate Journal (NEREJ)
August 25, 2017


Building occupancies such as retail, residential, commercial, healthcare, and education, need effective and reliable fire protection. Over the past year, this point has been emphasized again and again with reported fires causing severe loss of property and loss of life from fires in London, California and here in New England.

Property managers, building owners and facilities directors need to ensure the fire alarm systems in their properties are maintained to operate in a reliable fashion. Staying abreast of the latest technology for fire protection systems, along with any impending changes to fire and building codes which could impact the way you procure fire-related services, is mandatory in order to maintain the dependability of fire alarm systems.

What you need to know

One of the most drastic changes in technology is the way a fire alarm system reports to the monitoring or supervising station. In recent years, this modification has gone unnoticed until a fire occurs and the fire department is not notified of the alarm condition. Additionally, land lines and outdated reporting technologies have become much less reliable, for example:

• As of January 1 of this year, the FCC has authorized the sunset of copper phone lines (or POTS plain old telephone service).

• Customer demand for POTS has drastically declined along with the advent of new technologies, i.e. fiber, Internet, cellular.

• As a result, current connections using POTS and Leased Line Circuits (called BANA) will remain in service until they fail, at which point there will be no service or maintenance provided by the communications carriers.

• Within the next two to four years, it is estimated that 3G cellular connections will also use the same sunset rules as 2G. Specifically, the industry has deemed 2021 as a guideline for ending 3G support.

These changes will require building owners/managers to seek alternative and more reliable methods for communication between their building(s) and their alarm monitoring company.

Changes to building and fire codes: Why plan now?

Coinciding with the timing of these industry developments, The Massachusetts Building Code, 9th Edition, will be taking effect this summer. The building code references NFPA 72-2013 Edition, which provides for alternate methods of communication in addition to allowing the existing radio and cellular methods between a building and its alarm receiving station.

The code allows various options described below with my comments on their reliability.

Option 1: Wireless radio

• Wireless Mesh Radio Monitoring: this is a network of radio communicators which provides multiple paths of communication between buildings and an alarm receiving station.

• These mesh radio networks provide more reliable response time due to the redundancy of the system; there are multiple paths for signals from the building to the monitoring facility.

• Reliability is improved through a privately-owned and operated system using the network of paths connecting with the alarm receiving station without relying on current communications providers.

Option 2: Cellular networks

• Use cellular with Internet backup.

• User is at the mercy of the cellular carriers quality and reliability of service and sunsetting of technologies.

Option 3: Combination

• Use of one telephone line along with either a one-way private radio alarm system, or a two-way RF multiplex system for transmission.

Why radio monitoring is the optimal choice

Using a Radio Mesh Network provides the most reliable communication method for alarm communications to the remote receiving station. And, the dependability of radio monitoring can be obtained generally at lower monthly cost. Mesh radio has the following benefits:

• Free from constraints of the major communication providers;

• No phone lines required;

• Significantly quicker response speeds and faster notification;

• Provides for a more robust communication system at a reduced cost; no phone bills and no phone maintenance;

• Remote diagnostics ability; and

• Provides a more streamlined emergency communication system.

Furthermore, the mesh radio network has the capability to incorporate life safety and environmental signals by monitoring alarm signals over the same network used for security, temperature monitoring, and carbon monoxide detection.

Mesh radio monitoring provides customers with an advantage against the changing communications environment while still providing reliable communications of a potential emergency situation to summon fire department assistance.

Tom Norton is the president of NOREL Service Co., Inc., Waltham, Mass.

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Treading Today’s POTS Minefield


Security Sales & Integration (SS&I) magazine, July 2017 issue

LET ME BEGIN by getting a little sentimental for a moment. When I started and built RMR (recurring monthly revenue) in my alarm company back in the 1970s, there were two key elements; the newly introduced programmable digital dialers, also known as DACT’s (Digital Alarm Communicator Transmitter) and POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service), also known as PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). Now I am sad, yet in a way excited, to truly say I can see the sunset of this technology.

What I’d like to focus on here are some of the technical dangers technicians are presently facing in the industry’s transition from POTS to IP (Internet Protocol). The chief culprit is a technology called VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), which appears to the layman as new version of POTS, but is far from it. Technicians think they are programming a DACT for a POTS line only to find out the telco provider has
switched some of the main trunks to VoIP. You don’t know when this may happen, and it can cause intermittent failure of your critical, sometimes life-safety, communications. It’s a communications minefield.

Recently I had stopped over at one of my favorite security industry trade talk online hangouts, Ken Kirschenbaum’s Alarm Articles. Many of you also know Kirschenbaum, an industry Hall of Famer, from his monthly Legal Briefing column in SSI magazine. To give you a sense of what’s going on in the field, this month I’d like to share some of these online conversations techs are having on current issues with the intermittent status of POTS.

Jeff Schneller, Acme Fire Alarm Co.
“The past several months we have been experiencing DACT telephone line communications problems. The DACTs are not communicating with the central station and fail. When they fail the kiss-off light remains on but does not signal the panel there is a problem. Tech support from the manufacturer and the central station all feel it is phone line issues.”

Douglas Emery, Iverify
“To combat this I have been recommending that on all new fire alarm systems my company installs we have a secondary line of a different technology (cellular/network/radio). I agree that it is time to start recommending ‘alternative communication’ especially for new systems.”

Dan Zeloof, Inner Security Systems
“We found out that the provider could program their equipment to route the call to whomever is cheaper. We’ve instructed our provider to use AT&T routing once we found out that there is
such a thing as being able to choose. We get a spreadsheet of all our calls and figure out who the carrier was on a misdirected signal.”

Mike Fletcher, Florida Alarm School LLC
“The best fix available today seems to be asking the provider to configure the VoIP or digital line as a fax line. This means the carrier will select a codec [coder/decoder] protocol that does not use any fancy compression or features to conserve bandwidth and is more likely to code and decode the fax and/or dialer data accurately. THIS IS A BAND-AID ONLY!!!”

Ron Wies, Monitoring America Alarm Co-Op
“Alarms communicate just fine on VoIP. However, when a call is routed with no control the alarm communication may transition back and forth between SIP [VoIP] and TDM [POTS]. It’s this transition between the two technologies where the problems occur. Packets are dropped and the communication is scrambled. We have contracted with a telephone provider who offers controlled SIP service. Now when one of our alarm monitoring phone numbers are dialed the call is routed SIP from subscriber to our alarm receiver. We get a clean signal and no longer have communication problems regarding VoIP or POTS sunset issues.”


Another example of POTS lines going away and going fast.

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Sprint 1-800 Service Shut Down June 30, 2017


Sprint business landline decommissioning is taking place June 30, 2017.

This communication change is causing trouble for alarm monitoring companies impacting a large number of accounts that are failing to communicate at all and now find themselves having to quickly find a new carrier with a replacement solution.

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The Future of Fire Alarm Signal Transmission: Phasing Out The DACT

Minnesota Department of Public Safety
State Fire Marshal Division

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced a plan to discontinue the use
of land line telephones (plain old telephone service or POTS) sometime between 2018 and 2020.
This change will have a significant impact on many fire alarm systems across Minnesota that utilize
digital alarm communicator transmitters (DACTs) to monitor their fire alarm system. In December
2009, AT&T formally petitioned the FCC for permission to start transitioning away from traditional
switched-circuit phone systems and move to all-internet and wireless technology. Since many fire
alarm systems throughout Minnesota utilize phone lines to monitor their fire alarm system, it is
advantageous for business owners and fire officials to start considering alternatives. There currently
is no deadline imposed by the FCC to discontinue POTS phone service and there is no mandate at
this time to discontinue the use of DACT technology. It is recommended that all stakeholders plan
appropriately to prepare for this change and transition to another technology. This document is a
guide for code officials and business owners and gives options to business owners, contractors and
code officials.

Background and the Digital Alarm Communicator Transmitter
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 72 – National Fire Alarm and Signaling
Code gives the requirements for monitoring of fire alarm systems in chapter 26. The State of
Minnesota adopts the 2010 edition NFPA 72. For many years, NFPA 72 has allowed the use of digital
alarm communicator transmitters, also known as DACTs, to monitor fire alarm systems. A DACT uses
one or more telephone lines to monitor and transmit the signal to a supervising station. When the fire
alarm activates the DACT dials a preselected telephone number to transmit the alarm signal to the
supervising station. With the advent of internet and other wireless technology, phone companies are
no longer able to maintain the aging infrastructure for the POTS network. The anticipated elimination
of the POTS phone lines will require the numerous fire alarm systems utilizing DACT technology to
transition to another NFPA 72 approved alternate technology.

Alternatives for Monitoring Fire Alarm Systems
NFPA 72 lists several alternatives to DACT technology, including:

  • Radio
  • Internet Protocol (IP-Based Technology)
  • Cellular communicators

Fire alarm systems currently utilizing DACTs to monitor their fire alarm system will, over time, need to transition to one of the alternative options listed above. Unlike DACT technology, radio, internet and
cellular are all considered by NFPA 72 to be approved single transmission technologies. This means
there is no need for a primary line and a backup line used with a DACT.

Recommendations and Questions
Fire alarm industry and fire officials should begin preparing business owners and other affected
parties for this transition. There is no fire code mandate at this time to transition away from the use of DACTs. For new fire alarm system installations, it is highly encouraged for fire alarm industry
professionals to discourage the installation or future use of DACT technology to monitor fire alarm

For questions regarding this transition, please contact the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division at
651-201-7221 or by email at

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Intrepid Electronic Systems Builds State-Of-The-Art Fire Alarm Systems

THE VOICE, 2017 Second Quarter
A publication of NECA-IBEW, Northern California

Intrepid Electronic Systems Builds State-Of-The-Art Fire Alarm Systems For The East Side Union High School District

Intrepid Electronic Systems, Inc. is updating the fire alarm systems at 16 schools and administrative sites within the East Side Union High School District in San Jose, the largest school district in Northern California. The update covers 178 buildings, and encompasses the installation of over 4,000 devices, including smoke detectors and speaker strobes for fire alarm and mass notification. Intrepid Electronic’s $15 million design-build fire alarm modernization project will bring state-of-the-art fire safety to the District’s schools. Some 24,000 students attend the District’s high schools; the fire alarm system modernization project is part of the Measure I Bond Program, Fund 24, which designated $18.9 million for the upgrade. Study and assessment of the fire alarm systems at all schools sites was completed in 2013-2014.

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AT&T’s Donovan says 2G network in ‘soft lock,’ decommissioning to begin in coming months

by Mike Dano  |  Jan 4, 2017 11:16pm FierceWireless

AT&T is in the process of turning off its 2G network. But that doesn’t mean the carrier is taking the network apart just yet.

AT&T’s John Donovan said that, as promised, the carrier is in the process of turning off its 2G service. He said the carrier has enacted a “soft lock” on roughly half of its network, and that it will activate the lock on 100% of its network over the next 4-6 weeks. A month after that, the company plans to start decommissioning the network and taking down the equipment it uses to run the network.

Donovan, AT&T’s chief strategy officer and group president of technology and operations, explained that a soft lock is a reversible process that will allow AT&T to quickly re-activate the network on a market-by-market basis if necessary. He said the company is using the soft lock approach to ensure that it doesn’t deactivate service to any critical services like medical equipment. He said the company has worked to ensure that regulators and customers were alerted about its plans to turn off its 2G network, and the soft lock is a way to respond to customers who may not have received the warning—though Donovan added that no customers have yet complained that they were unaware of the carrier’s plans to turn off its 2G services.

AT&T first announced in August of 2012 that it would turn off its 2G network by 2017. The company is turning off the network in order to move customers onto more efficient services and spectrum, and to reuse that 2G spectrum for LTE and other services.

“We expect to fully discontinue service on our 2G networks by approximately January 1, 2017. Throughout this multi-year upgrade process, we will work proactively with our customers to manage the process of moving to 3G and 4G devices, which will help minimize customer churn,” AT&T said in a regulatory filing in 2012.

Donovan declined to discuss the effects of AT&T’s 2G network shutdown, including how many customers the carrier may have lost through the process. He said the carrier expects to provide details on the operation in its fourth-quarter results, scheduled to be released Jan. 25.

“If you look at the 2G curve, nature was doing most of the work,” Donovan said, explaining that most of AT&T’s 2G customers have already upgraded to newer devices that support the carrier’s 3G and 4G services.

AT&T isn’t the only carrier shutting down its 2G network. Verizon confirmed to FierceWireless last year that it is currently planning to shut down its CDMA 1X network by Dec. 31, 2019. However, the carrier said it would work with its current CDMA 1X customers and would consider operating its CDMA 1X network into 2020 if those customers need more time to move onto Verizon’s LTE network.

Not surprisingly, AT&T’s competitors are using the company’s 2G network shutdown as a competitive wedge. For example, T-Mobile late last year began offering free SIM cards and service to users of IoT services on AT&T’s 2G network.

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