Despite lobbying efforts and a petition to extend the AMPS Sunset date past Feb. 2008, the Federal Communications Commission has informally indicated that they will not grant an extension of the date by which cellular carriers can shut down analog cellular phone service.

In an article in USA Today, the chairman of the FCC indicated that he was recommending against the extension, said John Prendergast, managing partner of Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy and Prendergast, Washington, D.C., who has been working with the alarm industry on its petition. “Our understanding is that we do not have the votes to be able to override that,” he added.

While the FCC is not obligated to formally respond to the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) petition, Prendergast believes that most likely they will. “There is not a requirement that they answer it formally. My understanding though is that it will formally be announced at some point,” he explained.

This means that immediate action needs to be taken by all alarm companies that may have previously installed cellular backup or primary units (both direct analog and control channel versions) that work on the AMPS system. AICC emphasized that unless you have specifically installed GSM cellular radios, “digital” units that use the control channel of the analog (AMPS) service will stop functioning.”

“We want to send out the strongest message we can right now,” said Lou Fiore a consultant with L.T. Fiore Inc. who also chairs the alarm industry communications committee of the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA). “Dealers need to change out these radios. We want to get the message to the smaller companies that perhaps are not members of associations.”

Without the extension, all affected panels need to be replaced by early next year or risk communication failures. Distributors and third party monitoring companies can aid in the process by contacting their dealers to let them know of the risk, recommended Fiore.