Much has been said about Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) in the past few years and months. VoIP is taking off, but it seems as if most of what I hear from our industry is how we can band together to stop it. According to the research firm Frost & Sullivan, VoIP subscribers are expected to grow from 1.5 million to 18 million in the next five years. Revenues are predicted to grow 1,300 percent. What I’m trying to say is: You can’t beat them, so you’d better figure out how to join them.

When end users choose to begin using VoIP in their homes and offices, admittedly it creates issues. However, it might be better to call issues opportunities – especially for early adopters. While everyone else is still out there trying to fight it, or still under the impression that VoIP and alarm systems are not compatible, these early adopters can gain significant business and market share in their area.

Let’s talk about AoIP. What is that, you say? Alarm over IP. (Do you feel important to be at the beginning of a new acronym?) Just imagine how good it will feel to be at the forefront of a new revolution within the alarm industry. The AoIP glass is half full, my friends.

By switching to VoIP, your end users have already done much of the hard work for you. They have selected a broadband provider, contracted with the provider’s services, and have it installed and operating on their premises.

They have also notified you that they are ready for a sales call – albeit this notification comes in the form of no longer sending signals to your older dial-up receivers. But, take heart. It’s all downhill from here. With that very same broadband connection your customer has installed already, you can plug your choice of AoIP-compatible alarm systems directly into your central station. No more toll charges, and goodbye phone bills. Your end user is now paying part of your variable costs. Congratulations – you just got more profitable.

If this weren’t good enough news in itself, there’s more. Does anybody remember the “good ole days” when a contract was worth more than $24 a month? Like the digital dialer revolution before it, VoIP is 10 times bigger, and unlike the digital dialer, VoIP creates an opportunity for you to offer a better grade of security. It not only provides supervised, almost instantaneous communication to any central station in the world, but it also allows for immediate remote programming, flash upgrades and more. That means greater profits for you, not less.

If 3 percent to 5 percent of your existing market area is already using VoIP, seek them out. Start devising your plan early, hone your pitch, and convert these end users over. What better opportunity could you ask for than to sign a new contract or extend one with subscribers?

If the equipment you are using does not allow you this flexibility, then find equipment that does. In volumes there are AoIP-compatible alarm systems (with Ethernet built right in) for around $200. Upgrade and modernize these early VoIP end users as fast as you can, because there are more right behind them and more after that. VoIP is the future, and the future is now. Now is the time to decide if you want to surf the wave or wave your customers goodbye.

Editor’s Note: SDM wants to hear your opinion on this and other issues that affect the electronic security industry. If you have a strong viewpoint that you would like to share with your peers, contact Maggie McFadden, SDM Associate Editor, 1050 IL Route 83, Bensenville, IL 60106; tele: (630) 694-4386; FAX: (248) 502-1098; e-mail: Editors will consider all serious submissions.