Next year we celebrate many anniversaries and key dates, including the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service Act, and the Presidential and Congressional elections in November. But, 2016 is also the 20th anniversary of Congress passing the Telecommunication Act of 1996, which governs communications rules, policy and laws. It would be impossible to list all of the new technologies that have been discovered, created, installed and used since 1996, especially in the electronic security industry for residential and commercial customers. The 1996 statute has been overtaken by technological and market developments, especially in the convergence of voice, video and data services centered around advancements in internet technologies.
Twenty years ago there were no cable-telephone or VoIP interconnected subscribers and only 45 million wireless subscribers and no wireless internet connections. After the 1996 “battles” with the long distance companies and their proposed entrance into the alarm industry(most notably AT&T), the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) was created during these Congressional “fights’ on behalf of the industry. AICC is still very active and very involved on a daily basis in communications policies that impact life safety alarm and monitoring companies around the United States. ESA is an active and involved member of AICC.
ESA supports AICC in its presentations to the FCC on behalf of the industry and unites with monitoring companies and other industry representatives to present to US House and US Senate members and staffs our concerns on the issues impacting the business operations in the changing telecom environment.
ESA recently visited with the highest officials at the FCC and with members of Congress to present one very key position on the reliability of new technologies. Immediate Past President John Knox came to Washington, DC to make the rounds on this and other key issues.
Knox made the important point (presented by AICC in their Oct. 26,2015 comments to the FCC) that when there is a discontinuance of existing services to customers based on newer technologies, that service must be reliable, must work at the same or greater capacity as the existing service and afford the same reliability, “…routed to the correct location, connections are completed, connection quality does not deteriorate under stress and connection setup does not exhibit noticeable latency….that performance based standards to ensure communications paths, including VoIP paths, are reliable, robust and provide a standard of measurable quality.”
AICC and ESA have pointed out to the Congress and the FCC that in this rush to approve new technologies alarm signals must be properly transmitted without interruptions, especially when alarm signals from a customer’s premises to the central station are not being completed. John Knox emphasized in these meetings that this was a serious matter and one that impacts lives and property. AICC and ESA with others in the industry are concerned about a variety of issues that will come before the FCC and Congress in the coming year. These include copper retirement rules, the length of time for battery backup on standby power supply capacity for communications equipment and to provide reliable methods to explain battery backup to the elderly and other consumers, and the impact of security design and operation of an IP Network that has cybersecurity standards that will not expose consumers to higher risks.
ESA has also voiced its opinions to the FCC and Congress on competition. As ESA said in its comments to the FCC earlier this year, "we are not against new technology, nor are we opposed to innovative communications…we cannot afford to experiment when lives are at stake,” and therefore urged the FCC to slow down their copper retirement and transition from new VoIP technology unless there was extensive, testing and validation by manufacturers and ISP’s for any technology that seeks to impact the communications method used by the electronic life safety and security industry.
Starting in 2016 there will be continued FCC rules and regulations presented for AICC and ESA to consider. There will also be Congressional hearings, Congressional legislation and proposed policy initiatives. Get ready to assist the industry when called upon to help.