IP forwarding services seeing greater demand

As IP panels proliferate, central stations are finding more reasons to have their own IP addresses—and to resell individual IP addresses to their dealer base
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

YARMOUTH, Maine—As the IP revolution continues to reshape the alarm industry, those in the monitoring space are finding some non-traditional ways to boost RMR and improve operations in an increasingly IP-centric world.

One development amid these changes is the growing demand among central stations and their dealers for IP forwarding services. In simplest terms, these services allow centrals to own and resell individual IP addresses, rather than being bound to the IP address of their Internet service provider.

Owning an individual IP address—much like owning toll free numbers in the past—can be a boon to both centrals and dealers trying to increase redundancy and preserve flexibility and value as companies evolve, separate or merge.

“It really prevents us from having to issue our IP addresses in blocks to our dealers and making them beholden upon our internal IP network here,” Jason Caldwell, national sales manager at Acadian Monitoring Services, based in Lafayette, La., told Security Systems News.

Offering independent IP addresses to dealers can help avert some costly and time-consuming scenarios, such as those that occur when a dealer loses an IP block full of accounts due to a system failure. Without IP forwarding, Caldwell said, “We’d have to do a whole lot of IP routing within and that can take some time. It’s not something that can happen very quickly.” 

Acadian Monitoring Services is a reseller of Keep Your IP, an IP forwarding service designed specifically for the alarm industry.

In the event of a system failure caused by a power outage or natural disaster, the company can redirect individual IP addresses—their dealers or their own—to another IP address within their network, thus maintaining connection to their alarm traffic.

According to Caldwell, the process is reliable and fast. “That can happen inside of five minutes,” he said. “It’s that quick redundancy factor that’s an advantage for the central station.”

Total Monitoring Services, based in Sacramento, Calif., is also a reseller of Keep Your IP. Michael Moreno, IT manager at TMS, said the offering is catching on with dealers for myriad reasons. Among them are greater value and flexibility in the face of change.

“If they choose to leave they’re not being held ransom, so it’s a huge selling tool in that aspect,” Moreno said. “It greatly increases their value if they were to sell the company.”

One way IP independence helps retain value is by reducing the man-hours companies often incur in the wake of a sale. Installation costs mount when a dealer without IP independence sells their company or leaves their central, because in many cases hundreds or even thousands of panels have to be reprogrammed, Davin Roos, president of Keep Your IP, told SSN.

“The company purchasing the dealer is going to say, ‘Wait, timeout, if I have to spend $25,000 for a technician to go out there and reprogram all your accounts, I want to take that out of what I want to buy your company for,’” Roos said. “So that devalues it.”

One of the most vital aspects of IP forwarding, Roos noted, is that it gives accounts the portability they enjoyed when dealers controlled accounts through toll free numbers. Roos says his company aims to bring that degree of flexibility into an industry he says will be completely IP in the not-too-distant future. 

Drawn in large part to its redundancy benefits, centrals are also finding the service to be a modest source of RMR. “It’s a way for a central station to make a little bit of money,” Caldwell said. “We’re not making a ton on it, but it’s covering our costs and we’re getting a minimal profit.”

As a service, Keep Your IP stands to expand in adoption as IP panels continue to proliferate. But currently, with analog panels still in homes and businesses, the service is tailored for centrals looking for fast, efficient redundancy, and dealers of a certain scale on the IP front.

“If you only have a handful of IP accounts then maybe paying that monthly fee is not that economical for you,” Caldwell explained. “But if you have a several dozen, a few hundred or a few thousand of them, then this is a very affordable solution.”

For his part, Roos believes the niche he’s carved out for the alarm industry is here to stay. With manufacturers—he cited Bosch and Napco—pushing IP systems, he believes the technological trajectory of the industry on his side. “Eventually you’re going to have to adapt to [IP],” he said. “And once you do, why not adapt to it from the start by owning your own IP address, versus being reactive and having to reprogram everything again?”