Annual AICC Communications Survey Open Now

For the sixth consecutive year, AICC Chair Louis T. Fiore is coordinating the annual AICC Communications Survey. “The results have been used to inform regulators of our [industry] communications needs,” he says. “It only works if the response is robust. So please participate!”

This survey focuses on the percentages of monitored accounts using POTS (plain old telephone systems), VoIP digital dialers (DACT), or other technologies either as a sole method of transmission or in conjunction with another technology. The ten-question survey will take no more than a few minutes to complete. Participation is not limited to TMA or AICC members — industry-wide input will strengthen the findings. Input is anonymous and individual answers will be kept confidential.

Read Security Systems News’ interview with Lou Fiore for more information.

Find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/R9SH7JC

Fiore will share results following the September 1 closing of the survey.

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Issue of Dropped Alarm Signals Crucial to Future Telecomms Legislation and Regulation

Louis Fiore, chair of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC), is asking for your participation in its survey on the Issue of Dropped Signals.

AICC has launched an industry-wide survey on the issue of dropped signals involving Digital Alarm Communications Transmitters (DACT). The survey aims to collect information on how the telecom network’s move towards Internet Protocol (IP) affects these signals.

Fiore reiterates, “With the FCC promoting the IP Transition and with a rewrite of the Telecommunications Act looming in the not too distant future, this information is critical for us to convince the FCC and Congress of our continued reliance on this technology.”

Fiore adds, “While we all realize that DACT technology is basically past its prime, in a recent survey 64% of installed systems use this technology as a sole method or in combination with another method. It will be many years before it is totally replaced. With a mix a fire alarm and PERS systems out there, missed signals could have serious consequences.” 

The survey is open to all central stations in the industry. Results of this research initiative will be reported on at each AICC meeting and to the industry at large. For more information, visit CSAA DACT Survey.

Follow Up: Comcast Dropped Signals

PROBLEM:

Starting late Thursday, March 26, errors began to occur on DACT systems, not only on calls primarily originating from Comcast network customers but also other originator’s networks. These errors started to increase exponentially. The calls were coming from multiple regions across North America. All DACT formats were impacted during this episode. When actually measuring the timing of Contact ID DTMF signals, it appeared the inter-digit spacing was increased to as much as 70 milliseconds. With other formats there appeared to be echo and waveform distortion. Typically in VoIP systems, this is usually indicative of either poor network performance or the use of other than G711 CODEC.

This problem occurred before signals were handed off to affected central stations, so there was little any central station could have done to mitigate this problem, even if it is served by multiple carriers.

Many central stations were overwhelmed with the numbers of calls as panels tried to communicate, then redialing up to 16 times. This has the additional effect of reducing available capacity on incoming lines for other than Comcast customer panels.

THE WAY PSTN NETWORK WORKS TODAY:

Virtually all calls these days are transported by VoIP, somewhere along the way, even if the customer’s panel is connected to a legacy PSTN.

Regarding the issue at hand, this diagram shows how these signals are transported from a customer’s panel beginning with the Comcast network, then ultimately to the central station.

Carrier+Routing+Comcast2

In this instance Comcast calls that were originated from Comcast customers traveled though the Comcast network but are then handed off to an interexchange carrier.  In this case the interexchange carrier was Peerless Networks. Since Comcast uses multiple vendors for this traffic, some Comcast calls would be effected, others would not.  A very high percentage of the calls routed through Peerless seemed to fail.

WHAT WAS DONE:

Several of the national monitoring/alarm companies contacted Comcast at a high level on March 30, and by the morning of March 31 Comcast was able to move the traffic away from Peerless. This, for the most part, slowed down the error rate to manageable levels. Central stations may still be receiving communication troubles messages and other signals as communications start to restore.

NOW WHAT:

We are continuing to follow this issue. AICC has started a project to work with the carriers. But what we really need is evidence. So that we effectively move forward, please complete the AICC DACT Dropped Call Survey.