Based on the increased popularity of VoIP and the problems associated with alarm transmission over IP telephone lines, the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA), Silver Spring, Md., has issued an Industry Affairs Update, “Report on Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)” to help its members understand and work with VoIP.

“Report on Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)” is intended to provide alarm companies and systems integrators with information about this technology, including the consideration and preparation necessary for using VoIP in both current and new security installations.

The report stems from an industry meeting held in March at the Denver offices of Cablelabs, a cable industry-backed testing laboratory that develops protocols and specifications for cable equipment and service deployments. Representatives from NBFAA, SIA, CSAA, alarm panel manufacturers, installation companies and cable companies were at the meeting. Merlin Guilbeau, executive director, and Dave Engebretson, NTS instructor and SDM magazine contributing technology editor, represented NBFAA.

Attendees discussed some of the challenges and concerns associated with connecting digital alarm communicators to VoIP services, including the difficulty or inability of particular alarm transmission formats to pass through the VoIP network, wiring issues involving the electrical connection of the RJ-31X jack, and backup power issues.

“VoIP deployment is a growing problem for the alarm industry and is an important concern for every company that has digitally monitored accounts,” Guilbeau said. “With VoIP becoming more prevalent, alarm dealers and systems integrators need to be actively preparing their future business models for the coming VoIP world.”

Just how prevalent is the question? Time Warner projects that there will be 2 million cable VoIP customers by the end of 2005 and 8 million by the end of 2008.

Many of the issues discussed in the Industry Affairs Update will have an impact on how some alarm companies do business today - and in the future.

“The report, based on information that was discussed at the meeting, provides guidance and recommendations for NBFAA members to take a proactive approach to position their companies and prepare for this shift in technology, including how to educate new and existing customers,” Guilbeau said.

NBFAA encourages its members to download the report, which is available free of charge at, and utilize it in their business plans.