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Is the 2G sunset causing outages?

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Friday, September 27, 2013

AT&T’s 2012 announcement that it would phase out 2G service left most in the alarm industry, well, unfazed. With wireless technology, such changes come with the territory. Moreover, it’s not the alarm industry but the mobile phone industry that dictates network “sunsets.” As Lou Fiore, Chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Commission, put it in a recent conversation: “As long as you go cellular, there is no endgame here.”

A few months after the initial announcement, AT&T attached a deadline (Jan 1, 2017) to its 2G sunset. Since that time, the AICC has established a regular line of communication with AT&T, which sends a representative to attend the organization’s quarterly meetings.

AT&T informed AICC that, while interim changes would take place in advance of the 2G sunset, the changes would not affect the alarm industry. AICC members, Fiore said, were “skeptical.”

“We tried to impress upon [AT&T] the fact that our control sets hang on the wall, and if you change the operating parameters of that network, it may not work anymore,” Fiore said. “You can’t ask the homeowner to move the unit around to see if it works.”

Fiore, who is in the process of gathering information regarding possible outages for units tied to AT&T’s 2G network, said that in given locations, customers might still get 2G coverage but that there’s a chance it “won’t be as deep as it was before.”

Fortunately, there are some steps alarm companies can take to mitigate outages. Companies can switch to AT&T's 3G or 4G network by choosing matching hardware from a cellular alarm communicator, or to one of AT&T's competitors (the 3G and 4G networks of Verizon and Sprint are an option, Fiore said). Certain companies may be able to go with a wired network, but this is highly contingent upon business model, Fiore noted.

Still three years from the deadline, AT&T’s 2G sunset promises to be a story with several more chapters. I’ll be watching closely to see what kind of ripple effects it has on the industry.

Monitor America debuts at ISC East

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

SecureWatch 24’s new Fusion Centre in Moonachie, N.J., has a new tenant: Monitor America.

That’s the name of the company that will be operating the 25,000-square-foot central station at the facility, which served as an emergency command post for police and municipal officials after Hurricane Sandy.

Jay Stuck, chief marketing officer for Monitor America, said the company “brings together virtually all existing alarm and hosted video services available today, including video analytics, in one central point.”

Stuck said Monitor America is developing a third-party sales initiative and a traditional dealer program. It will all be anchored by the advanced technology at the Fusion Centre, with a 40-by-11-foot video display wall overlooking stadium-style seating for 36 operators.

“It looks like something NASA might put together—our dealer customers and integrators will be knocked out by it,” he said.

Monitor America is hosting a sneak preview of its new facility during ISC East and is expected to begin formal operations by the end of January.

After the storm: How did you cell carrier measure up?

It’s only been a month since Sandy, but officials are already deep into assessing its impact on everything from tunnel vulnerability to emergency communications. Part of the evaluation concerns cellular service, with FCC hearings set early next year on network performance during and after the storm.

Lou Fiore, chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee, said the group plans to weigh in and is seeking comment on the following:

1) How alarm service was adversely affected by cellular carriers’ handling of the storm.
2) How cell carriers handled prioritizing restoration of service.
3) How cell carriers communicated with alarm companies about storm issues.
4) How any problems can be resolved.

Fiore said the issue will be discussed at the AICC’s Dec. 6 meeting and all comments are appreciated. Responses can be sent to Ltfiore@aol.com.
 

AICC: New law would supersede Delaware mandate for in-state office

Proposed federal legislation targets duplicative and ‘time-consuming’ requirements by states
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09/05/2012

YARMOUTH, Maine—A mandate for security businesses to have an in-state office to operate in Delaware would be superseded by legislation awaiting consideration by Congress, according to Lou Fiore, chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Commission.

AT&T’s 2G shutdown in Oakland false alarm for industry

Frequency blackout didn’t affect alarm companies, CAA says
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09/05/2012

OAKLAND, Calif.—AT&T’s move to partially disable its 2G service here at the end of August got the attention of California Alarm Association members, but the frequency blackout did not affect operations in the field, according to CAA Executive Director Jerry Lenander.

Bill to deregulate telecoms in Pa. concerns industry

AICC says legislation would give telecoms like Verizon unfair advantage over security company competitors, but Verizon denies that
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08/08/2012

HARRISBURG, Pa.—Proposed legislation in Pennsylvania to deregulate the telecommunications industry in the state would give an unfair advantage to telecom providers of home security services, according to an attorney with the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC).

Talking mobile apps and new entrants at ESX

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New entrants into the security industry and mobile apps where major topics of interest at the ESX show in Nashville, Tennessee where Tess, Rich and I spent the last week.

I moderated three panel discussions on three different topics on Tuesday, but both of these topics came up in all three. And they came up in many other educational sessions last week,

I moderated a panel called “Technology Trends Impacting your Business,” with Wells Sampson from American Alarm, David Carter of SNA, and Lou Fiore of AICC.

Much of the discussion centered around mobile apps. Both Carter and Sampson are proponents of offering mobile apps “at every sale.”

The new cableco and telecom entrants, and many traditional security companies, are going to be doing this, they said. You ignore this trend at your peril, they agreed.

However, it’s much easier said than done. To get his sales force on board with this initiative, Sampson took several steps. There was the educational piece, which is ongoing, but he has a staff member calling every customer to ensure that mobile apps are offered at every sale.

In addition, all of his sales people are equipped with an iPad, so that they can easily demonstrate how the apps work.

A person from the audience said that his sales people have this technology at home, and it’s made them better ambassadors for these services.

Several people questioned what the adoption rate is for mobile apps, and Sampson said the projections are admittedly low. He is not concerned with that at this point. He just wants to ensure that these services are being offered, so customers know they’re available.

I have heard figures during ADT investment calls that their new interactive services PULSE offering has an adoption rate north of 25 percent. 

And during a different panel discussion I moderated at ESX “The New Competitive Landscape: Telcos, Cable Companies and Beyond” one of the panelists, Joe Nuccio, CEO of ASG shared an interesting metric.

At ASG, from May 12, 2011 to May 11, 2012, 56 percent of new residential sales opted for “enhanced services.”

Of course, we’re talking about resi and small business sales here, but this trend is applicable to larger commercial and enterprise systems as well.

American Alarm and other SNA companies, and ASG both do a lot of large commercial/government systems, and those customers want mobile apps, Sampson, Carter and Nuccio said.

At the PSA-TEC conference in May, Jim Henry of Henry Brothers/Kratos held up his mobile phone and said: “We’re going to see more changes in the next 18 months in this industry than we’ve seen in the last 10 years.”

How will new robocalling rules affect your business?

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Calling all alarm companies …

Are you robocalling into the void in an attempt to land new business, or to sell new products and services to existing customers? There are new rules that will soon affect you.

Under provisions of an order adopted Feb. 15 by the Federal Communications Commission, express written consent will be required from consumers before a company can place a marketing robocall to a residential or wireless number. The FCC also will require telemarketers to provide an automated “opt out” mechanism during each robocall, and it is sunsetting an important exemption for businesses placing such calls.

The bottom line for the alarm industry is that companies using robocalls to market products and services will no longer be able to do so under the “established business relationship” exception, according to Lou Fiore, chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee. Instead, companies will have to obtain prior customer approval.

The good news for alarm companies is that the AICC petitioned regulators to protect certain industry uses of robocalling, and Fiore said the FCC adopted final rules that did just that.

“Alarm companies that use robocalls to try to reach customers to verify an alarm [after initial attempts by a live operator] should be able to continue such practice because it would appear to qualify as a call made for emergency purposes, and not a call made for a commercial purpose,” Fiore wrote in an online AICC missive. Calls to verify service appointments and to collect debt also will not require prior consent.

Implementation of the new rules is pending publication of approval by the Office of Management and Budget in the Federal Register. The exact time frame for that is uncertain, but it will happen. To determine the extent that it will affect the industry, the AICC is asking companies that use robocalling for marketing purposes to contact Fiore at ltfiore@aol.com by Friday, March 23.

And those political robocalls that we all know and love? They’ll still be allowed. Only seven months till November …

AICC seeks nationwide license to help multi-state monitors

Bill targets overlapping training, testing and background checks
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03/14/2012

VIENNA, Va.—Citing the “administrative burdens” of multi-state licensing for monitoring companies, the Alarm Industry Communications Committee is planning to introduce a bill to streamline the process across the United States.

Congress passes NG 911 provision: Is it a threat to PSAPs?

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

At more than 100 pages, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012—H.R. 3630, the so-called "payroll tax" bill that passed Congress last week—is a daunting read for just about anyone outside the Capitol. There's a lot in it that doesn't pertain to tax relief or job creation, including items of great interest to the alarm industry, and now it is law.

A lot was changed during the months-long process of getting the bill through the partisan morass, but one item of concern to the alarm industry survived intact: language defining "Next Generation 911 services" and the possibility of unverified PERS calls going directly to PSAPs. Despite the efforts of Alarm Industry Communications Committee, which worked with the National Emergency Number Association on revisions to the language, H.R. 3630 passed without the requested changes as the bill accelerated through a congressional conference committee.

There is a silver lining, though. The AICC was told by congressmen that the NG 911 provision would only authorize a limited number of demonstration projects, and that it did not authorize the Federal Communications Commission to permit automated unverified calls to go directly to PSAPs.

I'll have more details soon, along with a look at the proposed auction of frequency spectrum that could affect the monitoring industry.

Next Generation 911: The bomb's still ticking

 - 
Thursday, December 15, 2011

 

The U.S. House did the alarm industry no favors Tuesday night.

By passing H.R. 3630, “The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011,” House members said yes to extending the Social Security payroll tax deduction and sent the contentious bill to the Senate. While you’d be hard-pressed to find a central operator who opposes tax relief or job creation, the bill is laden with a stealth bomb: Next Generation 911, which in its present form would allow emergency calls from alarm systems to be sent directly to PSAPs without verification.

Bypassing centrals is obviously a non-starter for the industry, which has now shifted its lobbying effort to the Senate. That’s where members of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) were laboring at week’s end, proposing new language in the bill to safeguard centrals and prevent the inundation of 911 centers with unscreened sensor-generated calls.

Lou Fiore, chairman of the AICC, provided Security Systems News with an update this morning and sounded cautiously optimistic about turning the tide. He said six key senators, including Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., had been receptive to the industry’s concerns.

“They listened very attentively to our proposals,” Fiore said. “They totally understand our issue. Tomorrow we have a conference call with (Democratic Rep. Anna) Eshoo on the House side, who’s on the committee that drafted the original bill.”

That’s important, Fiore said, because when things finally get hashed out in the Senate, a new version of the bill will head back to the House for approval. If lawmakers there didn’t get the industry’s message the first time around, this time “they’ll know what our issues are,” he said.

The timing is a little dicey because of all of the partisan grandstanding, but the smart money says sooner rather than later. “I know these people want to go home for the holidays,” Fiore said. “It’s down to crunch time.”

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