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Australia Communications Networking Security IT

Security Guards, Alarm Companies Object to Australia's National Fiber Network 156

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-you-love-unemployment? dept.
natecochrane writes "Australia's proposed high-speed National Broadband Network has put the fate of more than a million security alarm systems that alert Australians to fire, home invasion, break-in and medical emergency in limbo pending the building of a simulated test bed next year. A group that represents security guards and those that supply monitored alarms has concerns that ranged from the inconvenient ('angry customers woken by their alarm systems beeping' during a nightly NBN upgrade) to life-threatening in the case of medical alarms, its CEO said. 'Under the fibre-optic system there won't be that redundancy and backup [from the copper phone system]. So if it goes down no one will know,' ASIAL CEO Bryan de Caires said."
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Security Guards, Alarm Companies Object to Australia's National Fiber Network

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  • Yeah, because (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrashandDie (1114135) on Monday September 13, 2010 @04:16AM (#33559182)

    The system we've used for (nearly) decades where when a system stops responding, we know there's some kind of failure, and we send out alerts is absolutely impossible to utilise with fibre...

    • Re:Yeah, because (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday September 13, 2010 @04:45AM (#33559318) Homepage Journal

      More to the point the copper network is noisy as hell. It used to be that you would see fire engines in the Melbourne CBD every couple of hours or so because there were so many false positives from the fire alarms, and a lot of that came down to the phone system.

      So its gotten much better lately but re-engineering is well over due IIRC.

      • Don't they sell alarms that use cellular connectivity in Aus? They've had them up here for years, specifically because of the number of customers on broadband connections that interfere with alarms (DSL), and people abandoning the copper phone line entirely (switching to VOIP with the cable company).

        (I'm in Canada, not the US, but I'd be very surprised if they didn't have 'em in the US too)

        • Don't they sell alarms that use cellular connectivity in Aus?

          According to other posters, yes. I don't have one myself. Somebody else said fibre optics are power intensive to use so maybe cellular alarms are a better way to go.

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>More to the point the copper network is noisy as hell.

        Yep. There was water leaking into the conduit between my house (in California) and the local box. When we activated our phone line after moving in, it dialed 9-11 4 times, made a bunch of long distance calls, and 70-some odd 411 calls. The police said it was just static when they answered, but that it traced back to our line.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by MichaelSmith (789609)

          Incidentally the European standard emergency number 112 is very easy to pulse dial when joining cables.

          Telstra techs here in .au once described their network of pipes as a secondary storm water system. One wet day I got called out for a traffic signal fault. Our computer room was flooding from water flowing up out of the Telstra pipe, across the floor and under our false floor, triggering a flood detector.

          Telstra guy found a pit down hill from our building, and finding it dry tugged really hard on a cable.

        • Best way to hide 1-900 calls to sex lines from the wife ever!
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Shakrai (717556) *

          There was water leaking into the conduit between my house (in California) and the local box.

          My favorite POTS story involves an old woman whose phone stops ringing. She still knows that she's getting incoming calls though because her dog barks whenever someone calls her. One of her kids reports the problem to the phone company and a tech is sent out to troubleshoot the problem. Turns out to be a grounding issue -- the ground wire got separated from the ground rod. Why was the dog barking when calls came in? She chained the dog to the outside d-marc and the chain was in contact with what was le

  • But on he other hand (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday September 13, 2010 @04:17AM (#33559188) Homepage Journal

    The advantage of copper that that devices can run off it but lots of devices can run for weeks on batteries now, and moving to fibre doesn't really change the way communications are done that much. Alarms can probably be cellular now anyway.

    • by arivanov (12034)

      Not quite so.

      The basic problem with fiber is that the device sitting on the end of it (the NTE) can run at most for a few hours of a fairly big battery pack. Fiber is not mobile or radio where a device in idle consumes next to nothing.

      There are multiple ways to solve this (I have had to design a couple in the past, it is not that difficult), however none of them are part of present NGA designs.

      • I have googled around for a bit but I can't find any simple figures on the power consumption of a simple network terminator. My guess is that you will run a laser diode at 50mA or so. So a simple NiMH battery pack with 3.3 amp hour will give you a couple of days (maybe).

        A friend at Telstra described the massive low voltage DC cables they have and how hard they are to deal with. I think the DC supply was always there for pulse dialling and it kind of got misused over the years.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by NJRoadfan (1254248)
          I have Verizon FiOS here in the US. Verizon claims the battery backup is good for up to 8 hours. The ONT goes into a low power mode when on battery where only POTS is available for use. If you need TV/internet access or longer POTS backup, you can connect the ONT to a plain old UPS without any problems.
          • I have cable phone service here, FiOS isn't slated to reach my area for at least three years, but the IP phone is kind of "meh." When it works, it works fine, but it silently fails due to network outage during the night every couple of months or so, and if my peek at the logs is correct, it can be for 6-8 hours at a time.

            Which in terms of percentage uptime isn't too bad (two 9s isn't great, but it could be worse), I guess, but it would really suck to need to call emergency services and have to wait for tha

            • What guarantee does Verizon have that their VOIP is going to be more reliable than the cable company's VOIP?

              Verizon actually has two phone services running side by side on FiOS right now. There is the "normal" service, which is literally just POTS over fiber. It has no special added features, they literally move your copper pair to fiber and nothing else so it should be the same reliability as copper POTS (in theory). There is also the new "FiOS Digital Voice" service which is apparently VoIP and offers all kinds of features like online voicemail and call management. Both use the POTS jacks on the ONT, the differ

              • I wonder why Verizon doesn't let customer keep both the old copper POTS and the new FiOS. That way when the network goes down (and it does), you still have POTS for 911 emergencies and simple dialup internet.

                I've had my DSL konk-out twice in two years and was glad the plain-old telephone still worked. I could read email and call out.

                • Speaking with my brother-in-law who is a FIOS installer, Verizon is leaving the old copper up nowadays instead of pulling it like they did in the past. I think this is more of a labor-saving measure than anything else, but it does leave the option of falling back to POTS/copper if need be. I believe they do rip out the termination box for the copper, though, so there would be some work if you needed to roll back.
                  • More like the price of copper has dropped and no longer sells for more then the labor costs of removal. When I had FiOS installed, I had the option to keep a line as copper (house has two lines) if I had a service/device that required it.
            • Which in terms of percentage uptime isn't too bad...

              It is very bad by POTS standards.

              What guarantee does Verizon have that their VOIP is going to be more reliable than the cable company's VOIP?

              I expect that they will just use the FIOS to replace the local copper loop. Past that you'll be back on their existing network. The cable company is routing everything over the Internet. Besides, cable companies don't have much of a reputation for high availabilty. It's just entertainment, after all.

        • I think the DC supply was always there for pulse dialling and it kind of got misused over the years.

          It wasn't "missed". It's what powers your phone.

        • by sjames (1099)

          That's exactly it. The copper lines were intended to provide just enough power to operate a phone. In general, it (and the phone lines) are typically more reliable (particularly in bad weather) than the mains, so alarm systems tend to rely on it for backup (and if the phone line is down, they couldn't do anything useful anyway).

          The drawback to fiber is that it just forgets all about provisioning power to the premises gear and depends on a UPS that may not last very long, especially once the batteries age a

          • I don't know about other places, but here in U.S. Georgia, we have had power out lasting a week in winter storms but the phones were still up and running. The battery pack you mention would have come up a bit short.

            Very different here in Melbourne, Australia. I live in an established inner suburb and I can't recall a single power outage in the ten years since we bought this house. When I lived in the outer suburbs there were a couple of one hour outages, probably because there were more trees to fall on the lines.

    • by gl4ss (559668)
      an alarm system built for something you care enough would have two ways to communicate(or more) now anyways. radio and wired, if one goes down it would use the other channel to inform of it, if it was just radio and vulnurable to a jammer that would be no good too. and you only need to keep the alarm system running for long enough to get an alert out, so someone can come and check it.

      this complaining seems like unwillingness to learn new tech from part of the security companies, though, not like a real
  • by dowlingw (557752) on Monday September 13, 2010 @04:19AM (#33559202) Homepage
    I would have thought the monitoring companies would have loved the NBN, it means they can ditch large, space and power consuming analog PSTN gear with power and space efficient routers. As far as saying theres no monitoring, thats BS. If you're offering a Layer 2 wholesale product, you can see whether or not there are tunnels established for that client, and if the tunnel is up - you can poll to see if the device is reachable. Also a win for alarm system companies, who now get a chance to make ludicrous profits on installing entirely new alarm systems country-wide. Sounds like a knee-jerk reaction that if given attention might actually do these parties more harm than good...
    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday September 13, 2010 @05:07AM (#33559410) Homepage
      They already make ludicrous profits from installing the current POTS systems, which then sit and do nothing for 99.9% of their life. What they don't want is to have to eat the investment in coming up with a whole new system that can also sit and do nothing for 99.9% of the time.
      • by mdielmann (514750)

        Don't underestimate the value of something that works properly that 0.1% of the time when it really needs to.

    • In fact, under the NBN model, they could sign up and carry their own traffic from the alarm*, bypasing the telco middleman. Downside is they can pass the ongoing connection cost to the consumer.
      * (Presumably the ethernet ports on the ONT can be vlan segregated)

    • by elronxenu (117773)

      I've had "Securitel" monitored alarms, both the type where cable integrity is monitored at the exchange and the type where the alarm system dials out over PSTN with a low baud-rate modem.

      My current alarm system, the LS-30 [ohloh.net] is much superior to both. Because it's ethernet-enabled, it can be monitored by a security company over the Internet. It also can alert via GSM or PSTN. Of course, one of the features of this alarm system is that the owner doesn't have to get a professional monitoring service, but the c

    • by dbIII (701233)
      We've just had an election and the losers are grumpy. It looks like they are stirring up trouble about the broadband network that they opposed. The arguments against the fibre network before didn't make sense so why expect the ones after to make sense?
    • by sjames (1099)

      It's not the communication itself, it's a problem of long term power when the mains go down. The phone lines USED to provide that. If they add a big honkin backup battery and try to pass the costs on, some customers will prefer to cancel.

  • Eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nursie (632944) on Monday September 13, 2010 @04:19AM (#33559204)

    1. If the alarms beep during network upgrades MAKE BETTER ALARMS

    Hell, if the current models somehow will do this if/when NBN comes around then you get to make money selling people upgrades surely?

    2. WTF? No way of knowing when the system is down?

    I can see that if some systems rely on power-over-POTS then there's a downside to getting fibre to the home, but seriously, I would have thought these industry types should be rubbing their greasy hands in glee at being able to offer upgrade services.

    • Re:Eh? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jpatters (883) on Monday September 13, 2010 @05:59AM (#33559556)

      My phone service is fiber to the home, and they installed a box inside that has a UPS battery to supply power to the legacy phone hardware, and to keep it running through power outages. My guess is that the alarm hardware will have to include a bigger UPS because they probably draw more power than an ordinary telephone headset.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, 2010 @04:24AM (#33559224)

    It's more about the kick backs the alarm monitoring companies get from the Telecom providers for using their service for alarm monitoring rather than any technical reason. Thousands of homes, at least one phone call a day. A few cents kicked back to the security company. A license to print money - no wonder they are complaining.

    • by koreaman (835838)

      I don't know about Australia, but here most people pay a flat rate for phone service. They don't pay per call. So what incentive would telecoms have to give kickbacks to alarm companies?

      Correct me if in fact in Australia customers pay per phone call or per minute.

      • by jonwil (467024)

        I am Aussie and local calls cost anywhere from 15c on up depending on which carrier and plan you are with (there are some higher end plans that give you unlimited local calls though)

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I am Aussie and local calls cost anywhere from 15c on up depending on which carrier and plan you are with (there are some higher end plans that give you unlimited local calls though)

          Charge is per call for local calls.

          Most people here pay a charge per land line call 15c, 20c or 25c depending on their "bundle".

          Hey Australia! The 20th century called and wants it's horribly antiquated billing practices back.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MichaelSmith (789609)

        I don't know about Australia, but here most people pay a flat rate for phone service. They don't pay per call. So what incentive would telecoms have to give kickbacks to alarm companies?

        Correct me if in fact in Australia customers pay per phone call or per minute.

        Charge is per call for local calls. Time charges on non-local calls. Back when I worked on traffic signals we could get hard wired leased lines for $300 AUD a year from Telstra within a single exchange area. Our gear was located to minimise the cost of the leased lines. That was two actual strings of conducting copper, point to point. You don't see that these days.

      • by guruntus (1899766) on Monday September 13, 2010 @05:09AM (#33559418)
        Most people here pay a charge per land line call 15c, 20c or 25c depending on their "bundle". Copper Land line calls - the ones in question - in general are not timed. When the alarm dials out on the land line, it costs 20c or so to the owner of the alarm - not the alarm monitoring company. If the alarm dials out once every day at say 2am. That's roughly $6 a month per monitored alarm to the telco. This also assumes it is one call per day - could be more. The alarm monitoring company negotiates a deal with the telco, to use them and only them. The telco takes the $6+ a month from every person with a monitored alarm and feeds back a few cents (or dollars) to the alarm monitoring company. Over a few thousand houses (or 10's of thousands houses) this is a nice little earner for the alarm companies. Under the NBN, this all ends.
  • Satellite is around, and easy to implement. You get a basic text device for under $150. If you need more than 60 characters to say "being robbed" something is wrong.
    • by Shrike82 (1471633)
      Just saying "being robbed" is terribly rude. Bad form old boy, bad form. With a 60 character limit any polite person would be horrified to find that the salient information in their message was truncated off and lost forever, thus:

      "Dear Sir/Madam. I must be brief. I believe that my house is "

      That wouldn't do at all.
    • by Ksevio (865461)
      Isn't something being wrong the problem you'd be reporting?
  • Under the fibre-optic system there won't be that redundancy and backup

    Why isn't it possible to amek the fibre-optic system redundant? Isn't that what you want anyway?

    ps, a system is down/unreachable when there is no hartbeat.These systems do check for hartbeats right?

  • I wonder why they really hate this system. Putting redundancy checks won't be very hard - using a more secure and reliable transmission kind (satellite? wireless?) not too much of a problem either.

    I guess they either don't want to move with the times or it hurts them somewhere.

    • by hitmark (640295)

      if the Australian POTS is anything like the Norwegian one, the claim of redundancy is more lip service then fact from the telco(s) involved.

  • by bernywork (57298) <bstapleton@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday September 13, 2010 @04:35AM (#33559278) Journal

    This has to be one of the most bullshit statements I've had the displeasure of reading.

    There is two things wrong with this, the POTS copper system ISN'T redundant, they have a single pair of copper going onto a single card in an exchange (CO). They do have an SLA that they have to have 99.99% uptime, and if Telstra / Optus / whoever don't keep the copper line up they get fined by the government (ACA?). Secondly, ANYONE who wants redundancy can get a GSM mobile / copper wire system. A LOT of businesses have to replace their alarm systems every two or three years for insurance reasons (The insurance companies sometimes even pay for the upgrade) and a number of businesses already have this setup. If they have to go to NBN eventually (The copper system isn't dissapearing anytime soon) they will have a copper to VoIP setup with a GSM backup, it's not exactly hard.

    There is so much inertia behind the copper system that it will take a LONG time to decomission, (50 years?) I don't see the reason why they would have to upgrade anything immediately.

    Yes, there is medical requirements and a lot of dependency on the existing setup, but the new network won't be finished for 10 years, let alone the old one being decomissioned....

    Berny

    • "There is two things wrong with this, the POTS copper system ISN'T redundant, they have a single pair of copper going onto a single card in an exchange (CO)."

      though I'm not Australian (and in fact just learned about the barbaric practice of billing per call there) I can attest to the redundancy of Signal System 7. SS7, though not at all redundant in the local/last loop, is fully redundant at the CO level. if one carrier decided to take it's gear down for firmware upgrades/etc, the other providers with peering in the Local District are still able to signal calls (most often emergency only, as most governments require by law).

      unfortunately, I've not had the 'pl

    • by mjwx (966435)

      (ACA?)

      ACA - A Current Affairs - purely editorial program like Fox news but less annoying. They do biased tearjerker pieces on grandma's arguing with Telco's/government departments to sell ad space.
      ACMA - Australian Communications and Media Authority - governmental department responsible for the regulation regarding media (print/TV/radio) and telecommunications.
      ACCC - Australian Competition and Consumer Commission - politically independent public service mandated to protect consumer rights, business righ

  • man, what a load of bullshit...
    these people are paid by someone that doesn't want this network for the future to see the light of day... lemme guess... telstra :-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by c0lo (1497653)

      man, what a load of bullshit... these people are paid by someone that doesn't want this network for the future to see the light of day... lemme guess... telstra :-)

      Nope. They are paid by the customers... to do nothing at all, most of the time and to call a mobile if a light gets on
      I reckon the inertia in doing nothing is very hard to overcome (don't attribute to malice what can be reasonable explained by stupidity).

  • Why not have some system that sits there sending a message every 30 seconds, and warn when it stops....

    • by scdeimos (632778)

      Why not have some system that sits there sending a message every 30 seconds, and warn when it stops....

      Because in Australia people have to pay 15c or more per call for local calls. If alarm panels were doing heartbeats every 30 seconds you'd be looking at 2,880 calls per day, or a minimum cost of $432.00/day.

      • by deniable (76198)
        They do a 'chirp' on the line, not a phone call. The calls they make are in the early morning for updates and dumps. At least that's what the ones we use to have did. I shared my backup modem line with the security alarm and a coke machine that dialled in overnight to report its stock levels.
  • the systems are becoming more complex so you need more specialised people to do that.

    Anyone know how that would sit with getting a green card from the UK?

    • by ledow (319597)

      Give it a few years and they might think about it. There are already tons of professions on the official Australia Skilled Occupation lists (http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/sol/)- the "good" ones generally require you to pass a strict competency test from the Austrlian computing organisations or provide a significant, verifiable history to them. Even then, the "sought-after" professions are more management and farming than they are actual IT - Cartographer, Picture Framer, Piano Tuner, Sign Writer and Weld

      • by deniable (76198)
        I hope they've removed HTML and JavaScript from the list of rare and essential skills. I remember seeing that and thinking WTF.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Depends on the area. Medical tech might be in demand outside cities and get you rushed in after exam/tests/paperwork.
      Australian universities do pump out Unix skilled grads year after year.
  • Even in my current sleep-deprived state, it seems obvious that this is unlikely-event fear-mongering from established business interests, or something of the sort.

  • Uhh, from what I've heard, back to base alarms work perfectly fine over some existing FTTH rollouts. And some alarm companies are now moving to GSM/3G anyway.

    And if you actually bother registering as a priority assistance customer no doubt NBNCo/whoever will give you a free UPS for that ONT.

  • The article doesn't make it very clean but I think the redundancy referred to is the act of using the POTS network as a fall-back power supply.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Yes the exchange would have battery/gen power and send down many volts for a long, long time during any local power cuts.
      So many firms have been enjoying this "Bell' infrastructure.
  • I don't HAVE an alarm. Never did have one. It's just me, and my guns. Whatever will I do if someone breaks in? Oh, woe is me, poor backwoods nobody, with no alarms, and no one to answer the alarm that I don't have!
    • I don't HAVE an alarm. Never did have one. It's just me, and my guns.

      I take it you are one of the three remaining Australian gun nuts...

    • by JSBiff (87824)

      "I don't HAVE an alarm. Never did have one. It's just me, and my guns."

      What, no dog?

      • Nope. Just a chihuahua. I used to have a really nice dog, but he got old and died. A big old German Shephard, used to babysit the kittens while the mama cat went hunting something to eat. Man, I sure miss the old boy. But, the wife has this silly chihuahua. If one of us is home, and anything at all comes onto the property, the silly thing barks like a big dog. However, if no one is home, he will run into the closet and burrow under the boxes and shoes to hide. It could be a damned CRICKET, and he'll
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mgblst (80109)

      Some of us, you know, actually leave the house. That is what most people use alarms for. Most people don't need a gun to defend themselves in Australia, they are not that weak.

      • Look, I realize that in the US you use guns to defend against other people, and at times large, ferocious animals, but in Australia they use guns to kill mosquitoes, because the fuckers are HUGE!

  • by inflex (123318) on Monday September 13, 2010 @05:33AM (#33559470) Homepage Journal

    They're likely worried about the power supplied by the telco on the copper pair - however any robber who has the brains to kill the house power probably knows to kill the POTS landline too.

    If they (security people) are -really- worried then they'd have made sure that like most other systems they have their own battery-backup built in for just these sorts of situations ( not to mention the whole 3G/Wireless backups which would make more sense in order to eliminate the whole cut-wire silence issue ).

    All in all, another pointless beat up by people who probably don't want their cozy world of routine changed (better put them with RIAA/MPAA etc).

    • by dr_dank (472072)

      If they (security people) are -really- worried then they'd have made sure that like most other systems they have their own battery-backup built in for just these sorts of situations ( not to mention the whole 3G/Wireless backups which would make more sense in order to eliminate the whole cut-wire silence issue )

      Wouldn't one of those cell phone jammers make quick work of a GSM alarm module?

  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@NospAm.keirstead.org> on Monday September 13, 2010 @05:55AM (#33559544) Homepage

    People on here are misunderstanding the claim of redundancy.

    What the guy is talking about is with the POTS, your telco has giant battery and generator warehouses that can run the entire city grid for 48+ hours in the event of power outage. Normally, this is not the case with fibre, especially at all of the junctions.

    • by inflex (123318)

      So far as I've seen, Telstra (as do most telcos) implore designers NOT to depend on the power over their network (for several reasons). I've not seen a SLA documents regarding telco power but I've seen plenty of "use power off our lines and we'll fine your arse" ones - hence it's a bit of a bad design in the first place for these security people to have relied on it as their fail-over (yes, I know there are some allowances regarding vampire-tapping the power).

    • by bernywork (57298)

      I'm not mistaking the understanding for them saying that they are redundant (I know what their version of redundant is, I know what mine is too), what I'm saying is that he is mistaken when he claims the phone network is redundant. It's not. Most fibre installs I have seen (Including home installs) have had 8 - 12 hours of backup power. I haven't seen a power outage in Sydney last longer than that for a very long time. (Once in my growing up there, a transformer at the local power station caught fire and bl

    • by JSBiff (87824) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:27AM (#33559920) Journal

      You know, one thing I've not understood for years is why the Telco can't simply run fiber cables that have a couple copper conductors physically joined to the fiber, for power? Very often I hear this argument that copper lines can be used to provide enough power that the phone works even when main power is down. With digital, the argument goes, power goes down, you can't use the phone even if the fiber line is perfectly fine and the telco has power at their equipment.

      So, it seems the obvious solution is to bring some (low) power in along-side of the fiber cable. Then, whatever piece of equipment terminates the fiber cable at the residence, can distribute that power to the house (e.g. if it ties into a copper analog phone cable in the house that a POTS phone plug into, the power can be channeled out onto the analog plug of the fiber router, and if there is an ethernet network hooked up to the router, the router could channel power also onto the network (Power-over-Ethernet), so any devices which can be powered via PoE (like a properly designed alarm system, WiFi AP, VoIP phones, etc) will still be powered. You could further supplement this setup by having a UPS attached to the fiber router, so if for some reason power from both telco and mains was cut, you'd have a small reserve of battery power (say a few hours) to keep your home network going.

      Unfortunately, I don't hear any noise in the telecoms industry to implement such a thing.

      • power over the old infrastructure would cost money. and unless it's being given to them via customers or govennment, it's unlikely to happen. what a sad world we live in, that nobody is willing to take risks to innovate anymore.
  • PING (Score:2, Informative)

    by dsstao (855537)
    There are so many examples of single-point-of-failure scenarios that we already have a solution for it - heartbeat monitoring (PINGs). The alarm/security company sends out heartbeat checks every 2-5 seconds, the device at the customer's home responds. If it doesn't, an alert pops up. It's clean, simple, and is done probably millions of times a day already. Is this article serious that people are legitimately worried that no one will know when a line goes down? And, for someone else who mentioned it - h
  • lol (Score:5, Informative)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday September 13, 2010 @06:59AM (#33559776)
    I work for a large telco and coincidentally monitor alarms all day long. Our sites that are on copper go down constantly. Every lightening storm knocks out hundreds of customers. We always joke when a site switches to fiber that we'll not be talking to them anymore. Sometimes we call the local techs to say goodbye. Why? Because once a site switches to fiber they NEVER go down again. It's like they vanish off of our alarm maps. The simple fact of the matter is that the only situations that can drop the fiber connection would most definitely drop any copper connection in the area as well... major router going down, cable cut, etc... This redundancy crap they are talking about just shows how little they know about how it works. The REAL reason they object to this is obvious, I've seen first hand how their "alarms" work. The more sophisticated alarms actually have some 1990's era modem inside that dials into the alarm company to tell them theirs trouble. This requires a standard pots line. I've seen these lines go down for weeks before the alarm company runs a standard test and realizes it doesn't work anymore and calls us. Then I find out their customer didn't know what the line was for so they requested a disconnect 3 weeks ago. Great reliability from your security company there... Then there is the OLD SCHOOL way of doing things. The alarm company just uses our copper pair as an Open/Closed circuit. A simple smoke alarm that opens the circuit when it goes off, or, and this was my favorite, the water alarm. The cable pair would end with 2 contacts that were held apart by an aspirin. (no I'm not kidding) if there was flooring and the water got too high, the aspirin would dissolve, the contacts would touch and the circuit would complete and set off the remote alarm. Once ever 3 months they would call me to test and replace the aspirin. If everything switches to fiber, their $2 alarm systems would have to switch to something that could work on fiber that'd cost $100+. That's what they're concerned about.
    • not only have I seen worse, I've had to replace it.

      some of the things people call "contacts" make me laugh. (though, some of the "approved" contacts would likely make you laugh as well.)
  • so replacing a single system with another single system means that the first system is no longer there. yes i follow so far... where does the problem with reduced redundancy come in? 1(copper)-1(copper)+1(fiber)=1(fiber) not sure I get this line of reasoning...
  • by Assmasher (456699) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:28AM (#33559928) Journal

    ...I guess, somehow (lol), using fiber precludes using wireless as a backup too?

  • It's impossible for a cable to come down in a storm, or a backhoe dig in the wrong place. Well if the cable is copper, if it's fiber then that happens all the time.

    • as much sarcasm as I can read in that statement, it's funny how often it's true. in over twenty years, I've yet to respond to a call for a downed copper multi conductor. yet I've been personally contacted regarding at least ten separate fiber cuts.

      the major problem with most low cost fiber installations, is that the network is poorly mapped, and is a pain in the ass to map: due to the lack of metal in the conductor. in the extreme case, some companies will purchase RF scanners to detect the presence of m
  • I live in the US and work as the Manager for a Central Station for alarm companies.
    I know for a fact that all that bitching about moving to fiber is really just an excuse
    from the security industry to stick to old technology and never have to worry about
    changing with the times. Burglary, medical, and even fire systems monitored over
    phone lines are not dependable anyway. If a burglar cut you phone line and your alarm
    system has no other form of communication then you are left without any protection anywa
    • by mjwx (966435)

      If a burglar cut you phone line and your alarm system has no other form of communication then you are left without any protection anyway.

      As a sysadmin, we've solved this problem. I have a Nagios box that sits off site and emails me when one of my websites goes down... I thought that would be one of the key reasons for paying for a monitored security system, so if it stops responding someone in a control centre says, "123 fake st is offline, get a car round there".

      If you aren't monitoring your security

  • Do alarm companies usually come out to your house in the event of an alarm? Or do they just dispatch the alert to emergency services?

    Many people here are commenting that the concern of alarm companies is having to upgrade their equipment.

    That may be, but my first instinct was actually something different. As you switch to fiber the natural progression would seem to be to move towards an IP based system. Once you get to an IP based system, where to next? From there, is it really that important that the m

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