ESA Update to Attorney General Ruling in Massachusetts
Irving, Texas (December 22, 2015) —As a trade association one of our roles is to advocate for a level playing field for all of our members to fairly compete in the electronic security and life safety industry. ESA President Marshall Marinace recently provided a statement to the media regarding the Superior Court ruling in Massachusetts that was taken out of context and not used as intended.
After reviewing the facts in Massachusetts it is clear the electrical permitting process is overly burdensome for the type of technology being installed today. The statutes and regulations in Massachusetts do not reflect the current state of technology in the electronic security and life safety industry. ESA advocates for reasonable regulatory requirements that protect consumers and allow businesses to fairly compete.
We have gained a better understanding of the ruling in Massachusetts and view it as a positive step towards regulatory requirements that reflect the state of current technology. Comcast is an ESA member in good standing that actively supports appropriate licensing and regulation in every state where it does business. The following is a statement that Comcast provided to ESA to share with the industry.
Comcast has provided ESA with a statement regarding the ruling:
Comcast recently obtained a favorable result in its appeal of the Massachusetts Board of Electricians’ (“Board”) requirement that only licensed electrical contractors install Comcast’s XFINITY Home security system. Since that announcement, several industry organizations, including the Massachusetts Systems Contractors Association, Inc. (“MSCA”), have responded by mischaracterizing both Comcast’s position on licensing, background checks and training, and the Superior Court’s ruling.
Comcast always has supported efforts of the industry to promote appropriate background checks, licensing, training and continuing education. Comcast has gone beyond what is required by law and instituted regular background checks, consistent with the strictest industry requirements, even in those states that do not require such checks. Additionally, Comcast utilizes ESA Level 1 training in all states where required and has received approval for its in-house training in other states. Comcast employs license holders or qualified agents in every state where required, many of whom serve on national committees, associations or boards representing the security industry. Where streamlining of regulations is appropriate, Comcast has been supportive of doing so for everyone in the industry, and Comcast has opposed the efforts of some new entrants to eliminate background checks and certain licensing requirements. In fact, Comcast has obtained an S license in Massachusetts from the Commonwealth Department of Public Safety confirming its standing to offer home security services and which itself required evidence of the company’s ongoing commitment to background checks and maintaining other standards.
However, the XFINTY Home security system is a wireless system, and therefore does not require an electrical permit for installation. The only connection to electrical power comes when a technician plugs the hub device (which resembles a tablet) into a standard wall outlet. Comcast’s litigation in Massachusetts was based on this premise. We did not believe, and ultimately both the Attorney General of Massachusetts and the Court agreed, that an electrical contractors license should be required to plug a device into a wall outlet. The Board, however, disagreed, and during the hearing even went so far as to argue that plugging a hairdryer into a wall outlet could require licensure. Ultimately the Attorney General and the Court agreed that wireless, plug and play installations do not require electrical permits or an electrical contractors license as a condition for installation.
Comcast will continue to hold its S License and obtain state-mandated background checks in Massachusetts. In addition, Comcast will continue to use licensed electricians in Massachusetts for installations of in-wall lighting modules and thermostats, and other electrical installations required under the statute. While the decision was issued in our individual case, it benefits all those in the industry who are installing wireless plug and play type systems.
Comcast is excited to be part of the home security industry, and believes that its entrance will create competition for consumers, including with respect to prices and technology, and opportunity for all. It has worked, and will continue to work, with the industry to advance common interests and ensure that products will be installed safely by appropriately trained and vetted personnel. We are happy to note that we have been received positively by ESA and regulatory bodies in every state in which we have launched services, with of course the exception of the Massachusetts Board of Electricians. We certainly hope that will change over time.
Established in 1948, the Electronic Security Association (ESA) is the largest trade association representing the electronic life safety and security industry. Member companies install, integrate and monitor intrusion and fire detection, video surveillance and electronic access control systems for commercial, residential, industrial and governmental clients. In cooperation with an alliance of chapter associations, ESA provides technical and management training, government advocacy and delivers information, advice, tools, and services that members use to grow their businesses and prosper. ESA may be reached at (888) 447-1689 or on the Web at www.ESAweb.org.