In Memoriam: TMA Mourns Past President Tom Lewin

TMA Past President Thomas Lewin passed away December 13, 2017 in his home town of Minneapolis at the age of 86. He was president of the association from 1963-1965, and received its highest honor, the Stanley C. Lott Award, in 1998.

In 2015, Lewin recounted his experiences in the alarm industry in a letter to TMA (then CSAA). “My company was Automatic Alarm Corporation,” he recalled.  His father had been “a pioneer in our industry,” who in the 1920s started companies in Berlin, Brussels and other European cities before coming to America and founding Automatic in 1943. The company became Charter Member #11 of the National Burglar Alarm Association.

Lewin became active in the company upon his father’s death in 1951. He wrote, “We sold it to 3M Alarm back in the mid-60s. I ‘went with’ the sale and managed the 3M operations for a number of years” before retiring.

During his time in the industry, Lewin developed a technology to automate communications between central stations and public safety answering points that he called S.A.N.T.A. (Standardized Alarm Notification Alternative), which was a precursor to the ASAP-to-PSAP program. “Tom was a prolific writer – great at code – and ahead of his time,” said another TMA past president and current board member, Ralph Sevinor, president of Wayne Alarm. “With S.A.N.T.A., he established the building blocks [for ASAP]; technologies and relationships had to catch up. We are now the beneficiaries of his hard work.”

“Tom was a very young president of our association,” said Bob Bonifas, president of Alarm Detection Systems, Inc. and a TMA past president and current board member. “He was a delightful person, always helpful and willing to share his knowledge. He had developed an amazing product with S.A.N.T.A., which unfortunately could not be fully implemented until the advent of high speed internet and our partnership with Nlets.”

Read more about Tom Lewin, and his and his family’s journey from Europe to Minneapolis, in his obituary.

Follow-Up Report: FCC Seeks Comments on Overturning of Copper Retirement Notice Requirements and Other Consumer Protections

As previously reported, on November 16, 2017, the FCC adopted an Order rolling back consumer protections in connection with the retirement of copper lines and the discontinuance of traditional telephone services. The FCC took this action even though the alarm industry, consumer advocates and members of Congress objected that the actions could lead to consumers losing their telephone service and could adversely impact alarm service.

This article provides a more detailed analysis of the Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) adopted by the FCC overturning a number of protections previously adopted for consumers and competitors in connection with copper retirement and the discontinuance of telecommunications service. The FCC’s Order is the culmination of the Technology Transitions Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), Notice of Inquiry (NOI), and Request for Comment (NPRM/NOI), in which the FCC outlined proposed changes to its rules ostensibly “to accelerate the deployment of next-generation networks and services by removing barriers to infrastructure investment.”

In the Order, the FCC eliminates the requirement that retail customers must be notified before their copper facilities are retired. The FCC eliminates the customer notification requirement even though AICC, many consumer advocates, state commissions and a number of U.S. Senators urged the FCC to maintain a notice requirement to protect consumers from potential confusion and the suspension or termination of their service. The Order limits a notice requirement to telephone exchange service providers that directly interconnect with the incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) network and reduces the amount of notice to 90 days after the FCC issues a public notice of the planned copper retirement.

The Order also eliminates the rule prohibiting ILECs from discussing planned network changes in advance of public notice. In an ex parte letter, AICC argued against this action because it would frustrate the nondiscrimination provisions of Section 275 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and would have a negative impact on competition in the alarm industry. Section 275 requires ILECs to “provide nonaffiliated entities, upon reasonable request, with the network services it provides to its own alarm monitoring operations, on nondiscriminatory terms and conditions,” among other things. By prohibiting ILECs from disclosing information about network changes ahead of public notice, the FCC’s non-eliminated rule, Section 51.325(c), supported Section 275’s goal of ensuring that all alarm providers – affiliated or not – would have an equal opportunity when it came to utilization of ILEC network services. AICC stated that the absence of Section 51.325(c) may be interpreted as permission for ILECs to give their alarm service affiliates a clear competitive advantage over non-affiliates by providing advance notice of network changes. AICC argued that, in order to meaningfully preserve the level playing field that Section 275’s nondiscrimination requirement creates, unaffiliated alarm companies should be accorded the same access to information as affiliates, and the Commission should not permit ILECs to choose who receives information about network changes and who does not in advance of public notice.

The Order eliminates the “functionality test” standard for determining whether an ILEC must obtain section 214 authority to discontinue a service. Among other things, the functionality test required an ILEC to ensure that third-party devices, including alarm systems, would continue to work on a service intended to replace existing services. Instead the FCC only will require the new service to meet the carrier’s description of the service being terminated in its tariff—or customer service agreement in the absence of a tariff.

In its ex parte letter, AICC argued that the Commission’s decision to reverse the “functional test” is not in the public interest because alarm customers rely on their alarm equipment and services to protect their lives and their property and, therefore, before a service is discontinued there must be a service that continues to be compatible with alarm equipment and service. The FCC, however, has now found that “service providers do not bear the burden of ensuring compatibility with third-party devices.” According to the FCC, “carriers cannot know all of the myriad ways in which their services are used by customers, and it would be impracticable to require them to account for all these many uses in deciding whether a planned discontinuance triggers a requirement to file an application with the Commission. Carriers have no means of knowing what devices their customers are using and therefore cannot be expected to account for their proper functioning.” The FCC also found that it “makes more sense from a cost and efficiency perspective to require third-party manufacturers of ancillary devices— as opposed to telecommunications carriers —to bear the cost of ensuring compatibility. As the manufacturers of such devices— and the parties who know their operation and uses first-hand—these companies are in the best position to adapt such devices to changes in the underlying telecommunications service for the least cost and with the smallest disruption to consumers.”

The FCC also streamlines the discontinuance application process for carriers seeking to grandfather any voice and data services at speeds below 1.544 Mbps and the discontinuance process for applications seeking authorization to discontinue legacy data services that have previously been grandfathered for a period of at least 180 days; the FCC adopts new streamlined processing rules for applications to discontinue low -speed legacy services having no customers for the prior 30-day period; and the FCC finds that a carrier need not seek approval from the Commission to discontinue, reduce, or impair a service pursuant to section 214(a) of the Act when a change in service directly affects only carrier-customers.

In the FNPRM, the FCC seeks comment on a number of issues including whether a single interconnected VoIP service (without any service quality or other requirements) should enable streamlined discontinuance of legacy voice service. It also seeks comment on whether the FCC should streamline discontinuances for higher-speed data services.

Specifically, the FCC seeks comment on “Verizon’s proposal that the Commission streamline processing of section 214(a) discontinuance applications for legacy voice services where a carrier certifies: (1) that it provides interconnected VoIP service throughout the affected service area; and (2) that at least one other alternative voice service is available in the affected service area.” According to Verizon “adoption of this streamlined test ‘would compel carriers to maintain legacy services only in those rare instances . . . where their absence would cut consumers off from the nation’s telephone network’ and would ‘free[] carriers to focus on rolling out and improving the next -generation technologies their customers demand.’” The FCC seeks comment on the benefits and burdens of streamlining section 214(a) discontinuances for legacy voice services and on the benefits and burdens of Verizon’s specific recommendation.

In the FNPRM, the FCC also:

  1. Proposes to streamline the approval process for applications seeking to grandfather data services with download/upload speeds of less than 25 Mbps/3 Mbps, so long as the applying carrier provides data services of equivalent quality at speeds of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps or higher throughout the affected service area.
  2. Proposes a uniform reduced public comment period of 10 days and an auto-grant period of 25 days for all carriers submitting such applications. Under this proposal, such services must be grandfathered for a period of no less than 180 days before a carrier may submit an application to the Commission seeking authorization to discontinue such services.
  3. Seeks comment on AT&T’s proposal that the FCC eliminate the requirement that incumbent LECs provide public notice of network changes affecting the interoperability of customer premises equipment.

Comments on the FNPRM are due by January 17, 2018. Reply comments are due by February 16, 2018.

Thanks to Mary Sisak, attorney at Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, LLP, for this report. 

TMA Announces Technology Summit in March 2018

Security Technology Professionals to Discuss Monitoring Center Tech Trends and Issues at the Inaugural TMA Technology Summit in March 2018

The Monitoring Association announced its first “TMA Technology Summit,” to be held March 19-21, 2018 in Salt Lake City, UT. This new event is coordinated by TMA’s Technology Committee, which is co-chaired by Sascha Kylau, Vice President of Sales, Onetel Security and Steve Butkovich, CTO, CPI Security Systems.

“We invite CTOs, CIOs, and IT directors of monitoring companies to participate in the first TMA Tech Summit to learn about and discuss technology issues that directly affect monitoring centers,” said Kylau.

Education is a prime component of TMA’s mission, and the association is well-known for the high-level educational offerings at its Annual Meeting, Electronic Security Expo (ESX), Fall Operations Management Seminar, and online courses. The Technology Summit will address the emerging education needs of security technology professionals. “By attending, these tech pros will learn about the newest technologies — hardware, software and services — to run their central stations securely and efficiently, minimizing downtime and protecting them from internal and external threats,” Kylau continued.

“We also welcome dealers, owners, and interested participants from manufacturing companies,” said Butkovich. “We’ll be talking about all the things that matter when it comes to technology and running and securing an effective business.”

Sessions and topics will include:

  • Intelligent Apps and Analytics
  • MPLS, SD-WAN, Secure VPNs (What are they and what is best for my business)
  • Contact Center 2018 (Speech Recognition for QC, text to speech, AI, and more)
  • Data Storage (New Storage options and best practices for storage and Data Retention)
  • 3G, LTE, FirstNet, 5G and beyond
  • Next Gen Linux Mainframe
  • CyberSecurity (Gap & Risk Assessment — It’s a Business Issue, Not Just an IT issue)
  • Next Gen Firewalls and other Cyber hardware tools
  • Data backup and recovery solutions
  • Data Encryption

The TMA Technology Summit is modeled after the popular annual TMA Fall Operations Management Seminar. Each of the two days will conclude with round-table discussions of the day’s presentations. Speakers, session leaders, sponsors and vendors will be announced in the coming weeks.

The housing block at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek, 75 South West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101 will open in early January. The registration fee is $595 for TMA members, $695 for non-members. For schedule details and to register and find the housing link, visit http://tma.us/tma-tech-summit/ .

 

2017: TMA’s Year In Review

holiday card 2017What an eventful year … we started out as the Central Station Alarm Association and finished as The Monitoring Association! We welcomed our first members in our expanded categories and our first Canadian president. Read on for our full recap of 2017. TMA thanks our members for their support and participation! To get more involved with TMA in 2018, contact Celia Besore at membership@tma.us.

January: Bucks County is the first ASAP implementation in the state of Pennsylvania, kicking off a year of significant growth for the service.

March: CSAA becomes The Monitoring Association (TMA).

April: TMA welcomes its first Non-Listed Non-Alarm member, Eyewitness Surveillance, and its first Security Technology Services Provider member, Guardian Alarm of Florida, LLC dba Guardian Hawk Security.

May: Doyle Security goes live with ASAP; Rochester/Monroe County is the first ASAP implementation in New York State.

June: TMA co-hosts the 10th annual Electronic Security Expo (ESX) in Nashville, TN.

June: At ESX, TMA announces the 2017 TMA Excellence Awards winners:

  • Monitoring Center of the Year: Vivint SmartHome
  • Monitoring Center Operator of the Year: Craig Pierce, Safe Systems
  • Monitoring Center Manager of the Year: Keith Godsey, Dynamark
  • Monitoring Center Support Person of the Year: Laura Jacobson, Cooperative Response Center

June: Rochester/Monroe County, NY’s John Merklinger receives the 2017 TMA Public Sector Award for his efforts to bring ASAP to New York State.

July: Dane County is the first ASAP implementation in Wisconsin.

August: TMA welcomes its first Non-Listed Alarm member, Western Alarm Services, Inc.

September: Johnson Controls Building Solutions, North America goes live with ASAP.

October: TMA holds its annual meeting in Scottsdale, AZ, highlighted by increased numbers of new members, first time attendees, and “TMA NextGen” professionals joining long-time attendees.

October: Rapid Response’s Morgan Hertel receives the Stanley C. Lott Award, TMA’s highest honor.

October: Onetel’s Sascha Kylau receives the TMA President’s Award.

October: TMA members at the Annual Meeting donate more than $2000 to the Hurricane Harvey relief effort in support of ASAP partner the Houston Emergency Response Center.

October: Sentinel Alarm’s Ivan Spector becomes TMA’s first Canadian president.

November: TMA releases a new training course for monitoring center operators, created to address the challenges of 21st-century monitoring.

November: Hamilton County/Chattanooga is the first ASAP implementation in Tennessee.

November: “Evolutionary Monitoring,” the TMA Fall Operations Management Seminar, features tours of UL headquarters’ testing laboratories and Walgreens’ Security Operations Center.

December: TMA announces the inaugural “TMA Technology Summit” to be held in March 2018 as part of its strategic goal to assist its members with technology challenges.

December: The number of students who have registered for TMA’s online training since the program’s inception reaches nearly 25,000.

December: 129 companies in 145 locations earned TMA Five Diamond® designation in 2017.

 

 

Monroeville, PA to Cut Emergency Response Times with ASAP

On December 19, Monroeville became the first municipality in the Pittsburgh area to implement the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP), a service designed to automate communication between alarm monitoring central stations and public safety dispatch/911 centers. Monroeville is the 32nd “PSAP” in the United States and second in Pennsylvania to connect with ASAP.

“Every second counts in emergencies,” said Monroeville Chief of Police Doug Cole. “With ASAP, we’ll be able to reduce call-processing times to provide quicker and more accurate emergency response to Monroeville citizens.”

Electronic data transmission results in the following benefits for residents and first responders:

  • Fewer phone calls to emergency response centers. Alarm center data is passed to public safety dispatch/911 operators electronically within seconds and then provided to first responders upon dispatch to the location.ASAP-Concept1D
  • Quicker processing times. Data doesn’t have to be input manually or communicated verbally, resulting in reduced hold times, less chance of human error and faster responses.
  • Greater accuracy of information transmitted.
  • More prompt action during natural disasters. It’s common for public safety dispatch/911 centers to be overwhelmed with calls during these types of emergencies.

Monroeville receives 2,500 calls at its dispatch center monthly. Historically, its average alarm response time has been between two to four minutes. With ASAP delivering alarm notification information directly from central stations to public safety answering points (PSAPs) and public safety dispatch centers via computer rather than by phone, the municipality expects alarm response times to drop to a minute and half or less. These benefits will extend across Monroeville police, fire and emergency medical services, and Pitcairn police and emergency medical services, according to Monroeville’s statement.

For more information about ASAP, visit tma.us/asap.

Source: PRNewswire

FCC Repeals Net Neutrality

As anticipated, on December 14, the FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to adopt an Order repealing the 2015 Net Neutrality Order. Among other things, the Order:

  • Reclassifies broadband Internet access service as an information service (removing it from Title II regulation);
  • Reinstates the private mobile service classification of mobile broadband Internet access service;
  • Eliminates the Bright Line Rules (no blocking/throttling/paid prioritization) and the Internet Conduct Standard (a general code of conduct for ISPs);
  • Adopts transparency requirements that ISPs disclose information about their practices to consumers;
  • Looks to the Federal Trade Commission’s to protect consumers online from any unfair, deceptive, and anticompetitive practices.

TMA’s Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) filed reply comments in the FCC’s proceeding stating that its members compete directly with certain large broadband internet access service (BIAS) providers in the provision of security monitoring, installation, and other service while at the same time being dependent upon the BIAS carriers’ transmission services. Although AICC urged the Commission to maintain its Bright Line Rules, which prohibit BIAS providers from blocking or throttling traffic and also prohibit paid prioritization for broadband Internet access service, the FCC eliminated them. 

AICC also argued that the FCC should maintain Section 275 of the Act, which was adopted as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as a compromise between the alarm industry and the Bell Operating Companies (BOCs) to protect the alarm industry from discrimination by the former BOCs. Section 275 provided four main protections for the alarm industry:

  1. It prohibited the BOCs from entering the alarm industry market for five years (which provision has since expired)
  2. It requires any incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) that is engaged in the provision of alarm monitoring services to provide non-affiliated entities the same network services it provides to its own alarm monitoring operations on nondiscriminatory terms and conditions
  3. It prohibits an ILEC from subsidizing its alarm monitoring services from telephone exchange service operations
  4. It required the Commission to establish expedited procedures for the receipt and review of complaints regarding Section 275.

The Order did not address Section 275, despite the pleas of AT&T and others to eliminate it, and its protections remain in place.

AICC will continue to follow and report on Net Neutrality developments and how they may affect alarm industry businesses.