For the last eight years The Monitoring Association’s Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) has been running an annual communications survey. Its object is to find the percentage of installations using a form of PSTN or VoIP, wireless or IP to send signals from a monitored premise to a central station. For the sake of simplicity, the survey does not differentiate between a technology being used by itself or in conjunction with another. This is why adding the results of two or more technologies will yield sums greater than 100 percent. The survey participants are solely alarm installation companies. The resulting data is used as we advocate for the alarm industry at the FCC and Congress.

The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is an analog voice transmission phone system implemented over copper twisted pair wires. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the use of a broadband path instead of a pair of directly connected copper wires. As both these methods use what we have traditionally called the “digital dialer” they are lumped together in this survey as Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). There are fewer and fewer copper pairs in America, so a good deal of that voice traffic is now carried over cable or IP circuits, assuming the encoding/decoding process of these signals over cable or IP circuits does not distort the data being transmitted. In the survey’s second year, it was modified to add installations made in the previous twelve months. So this gives us a picture of what is in place (i.e. legacy) versus the trend of new installations going forward.

As expected, the use of the PSTN and VoIP lumped together has dropped from a high of 82 percent in 2012 to 47 percent in 2019. Conversely, the use of wireless in all its forms (cellular and UHF radio combined) has risen from a low of 15 percent in 2012 to a high of 61 percent in 2019.

While the drop in PSTN plus VoIP is dramatic, it should be understood that half of installed systems still rely on this technology, either by itself or in combination with another technology.

More encouraging is the data regarding new installations. New installations of POTS has dropped to 21 percent. So only one in five installations use this technology. New installations of wireless has risen to 79 percent. So four of five new installations use wireless in some form.

This year, for the first time, wireless was broken down between Cellular and UHF Radio. With this data, we can say that the 61 percent of legacy wireless breaks down as follows: 48 percent is cellular and 13 percent is UHF radio; for new installations (within the last 12 months) the breakdown is 67 percent cellular and 12percent UHF Radio.

I would like to thank The Monitoring Association and the Electronic Security Association for their help in asking for participation in this survey.