Security and VOIP

By Wayne Ohlemeier, Sonitrol Pacific Chief Technical Officer
Posted November 18, 2008

Many businesses we protect seek to save money, consolidate technology, and (in theory) make life easier by switching to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone line.

The Sonitrol Pacific team has aggressively urged everyone to not use VOIP technology for their security system needs. In our experience, security panels would not communicate properly on many occasions, if at all, when using VOIP.

In a nutshell, we tried to avoid VOIP like the plague. However, one provider of VOIP service appears to have created a vaccine.

We have been working very closely with Comcast and their voice product lines. I am happy to announce that Sonitrol panels should be able to communicate properly over the Comcast voice system. I carefully choose the word “should”. Comcast will acknowledge they have equipment in the field which will not work with burglar alarm technology. However, any of this equipment is upgradeable to be compatible with Sonitrol panels.

If you are interested in switching to Comcast, we need to test your Sonitrol system while the Comcast technician is still at your location. If an issue presents itself, we must switch back to a regular phone line until the issue can be resolved.

The use of Comcast voice must be limited to intrusion detection, access control, and residential fire. It cannot be used for commercial fire monitoring of any type. The Comcast service does not currently meet the fire codes for back up of the phone lines should the power fail.

Comcast is not the only provider of VOIP services. We have not, to date, been able to work with any of the other providers. We must continue to recommend that any user of VOIP other than Comcast maintain POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) for all of their security and fire needs.