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VOIP - Voice Over Internet Protocol

Security alarm and monitoring systems for home and businesses

VOIP is a communication path which uses your internet connection to enable you to place voice calls over internet based networks.

Can VOIP phone service and a Home Security System work together?

The alarm service may work correctly with VoIP most of the time, but it is unlikely going to be 100% reliable for the following voip home alarm systemreasons:

  • Transmitting alarm system tones over a VOIP line issues - Most alarm systems are still using DTMF (Dual Tone Multi Frequency) tones to communicate with a central station. These signals are often interpreted by a monitoring system that measures the time between signals, and uses that information as one of the variables when determining what type of alarm signal has been received. The pitch of the signal tones that are received must also be consistent with the transmitted signals. As VOIP is converting these signals into digital packets and then compressing the packet prior to transmission, the uncompressed packets that are received at the alarm companies central station may not be reproduced consistently. For alarm systems, these signals must be transmitted and received perfectly, every time.
  • Line seizure issues - When an alarm is active, the phone line is seized by the alarm system. For this to function correctly, the incoming phone line needs to be connected to the alarm control unit before it is connected to any phones. It operates as a signal pass through the majority of the time, but when an alarm goes off, the unit can then seize the phone line. In theory, VoIP should work for this requirement most of the time, but if the receiver is already off-hook, it is unlikely that the line can be seized. This wiring could be challenging for VoIP as (a) you need to somehow run a cable between your ATA, alarm control and your phone base station, or (b) if you have pre-installed alarm wiring behind the walls, you will need to perform some re-wiring at the outside phone demarcation point, basically disconnecting the incoming phone line that was going to the alarm. After doing that, you will still need to run a cable from the ATA to alarm control and should then be able to plug phones into house wiring. There are a few different scenarios to consider and it can potentially get complicated and somewhat messy. Hopefully you get a feel for what the potential issues are with phone line seizure and VoIP.
  • Electrical power issues - if power goes out, phone line goes down along with the alarm. As VoIP requires a constant source of power to operate, the phone line will go down if there is a power outage. If a home security system is using the phone line to communicate with the central station, the alarm also becomes non-functioning when the power goes down. This particular issue can of course be easily mitigated with the use of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for backup power to the phone adapter (ATA), but this device will cost you upwards of $50 or more.
  • VOIP company providers state that security alarm should not be used with their phone service - A quick search of support pages, or the terms and conditions of service, for companies such as Vonage, Phone Power and VoIPo will clearly state that they make no guarantees on alarm system functionality, and that alarm companies should be consulted to discuss recommended options. Also remember that with VoIP, if the Internet goes down, then the phone service goes down.

Alarm monitoring transmissions are mission critical, safety signals that can impact both life and property, and VoIP lines were never designed to carry these types of signals reliably. As such, VOIP companies do not recommend using a VOIP phone line for this purpose as they do not want to be exposed to any form of liability for an alarm failure. If you are still considering using your VOIP phone line for this purpose, call MAGEN SECURITY at 416.658.5757 and we will check your security alarm and phone system.

Different Security Alarm Monitoring Options for Home and Businesses

VOIP for your home phone service as it is the most cost effective and feature rich service available by far. What that means for your security alarm system though is that you need to find a better and more reliable way for the system to communicate with the remote monitoring service.

The following provides some insight into options available to you currently:

  • Landline ( traditional telephone service )
    • Reliable and supported by most alarm companies
    • Monthly additional cost for line rental
    • Intruder/burglar can cut the phone line prior to entry to disable the alarm
  • Internet ( install an Alarm Broadband Network - ABN ) or Broadband Alarm Transmitter (BAT)
    • No phone line required
    • Prioritize home network traffic for security alarm devices
    • No additional equipment required
    • Service is dependant on the reliability of your internet connection
    • Must have capability of enabling traffic prioritization QoS on home network
    • Internet cable can be cut by an intruder to disable the alarm system
    • Most alarm companies don't support this option
    • UPS required
  • Cellular communication
    • Cannot be cut by an intruder
    • Reliable and consistent communication method
    • Eliminate system vulnerabilities
    • No phone line required
    • Rates can be more expensive
    • Not every alarm company offers this option
    • Need to have consistent cellular signal strength
  • VOIP ( with MFVN - Managed Facility Voice Network )
    • Magen Security support these phone services for monitoring signals
    • Lowest alarm service cost
    • Backup monitoring method to ensure uptime
    • UPS required

Estimated Cost

  • Unlimited Landline $78.00 ( Landline $43.00 + Landline Monitoring $35.00 )
  • Unlimited Landline+VOIP major cable company $70.99 ( VOIP MFVV Support $35.00 + Landline Monitoring $35.99 )
  • Basic Landline+VOIP provider $60.23 ( Basic Landline $18.25 + Landline Monitoring $35.99 + VOIP Provider $5.99 )
  • VOIP Phone Service+Internet monitoring $49.98 ( VOIP Provider $5.99 + Internet Monitoring $43.99 )
  • VOIP Phone Service+Cellular monitoring $53.98 ( VOIP Provider $5.99 + Cellular Monitoring $47.99 )

NOTE: Costs are for example purposes only and are subject to change by the providers that are offering the services. Taxes and other fees are not included and can vary based on your location.

Magen Security Recommendations

If we were choosing a solution for a home alarm system, we would definitely be going with a cellular based monitoring service, as it is clearly the most reliable option and the least vulnerable, despite a slightly higher cost. If you go ahead and change over to VOIP for your home phone service, the large cost savings you experience will likely mean that you are paying only a little more per month overall, and now also have a home security system. Email us or Call us at 416.658.5757 and our customer representatives will be happy to assist, and give you the best possible solution.


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