Today, many households no longer have landline telephone systems. While some people choose cell phones alone, others choose to get their phone service through VoIP.
What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. When you have VoIP service, your telephone service does not work through traditional copper telephone lines. Instead, you use a computer, VoIP phone, or other special device to make phone calls. VoIP technology uses “packet-switched” protocols to convert signals previously transmitted over copper wires into packets and transmitted over an Internet network.
While all of this sounds technical, it is basically that it can get cheaper phone services for your home or business when the calls are routed through the Internet. The only problem is that many home security systems use your phone line to transmit data to the monitoring companies that respond when something triggers your alarm. And once you have a VoIP service, you no longer have a traditional phone line that can be used to transmit that data.
The good news is that you do not have to choose between a secure home and an affordable telephone service. There are some VOIP alarm systems or VOIP home security packages that you can buy so that you can still get a good security system for your home, business or apartment without going back to a traditional landline service.
You have options for a VoIP alarm system
With most home security systems relying on telephone lines, the system relies on a specific signal being sent along your traditional telephone lines.
Unfortunately, when you have VoIP, sounds are not transmitted in the same way as they are on a traditional telephone line with copper wires. Instead, when you talk to a VoIP phone or device, the signal is converted to digital data. This is where you run into problems because the digital signal your VoIP service sends is not recognized by all security monitoring companies as an alarm signal.
However, there are some security systems and VoIP providers that can communicate with each other. The key factor in determining whether a security system and VoIP system are compatible is the method by which the security system “speaks” to the center that monitors alarm sensors.
To ensure that alarms transmit signals correctly, security system providers maintain up-to-date databases of all telephone providers in each local area. Any telephone provider that is fully compatible with the security system is designated as a qualified Managed Facility Voice Network (MFVN). If you want a VoIP alarm system that can communicate over a VoIP network, you need to find an alarm company that lists your VoIP provider as a Managed Facility Voice Network.
Your alarm system also depends on your VoIP system remaining operational and capable of transmitting a signal in the event of a power failure. Unfortunately, VoIP systems usually cannot do that. As a result, you typically also need backup power or a dedicated network connection to ensure that your VoIP service can send a signal when there is no power to your home. Alternatively, your VoIP home security package can be provided with mobile backup if the power goes out and your phone service stops working as a result.
Wireless systems are a great option for VoIP home security
In many cases, it turns out to be an impossibility to find a fixed wired security system and a compatible VoIP system, or the cost of backup power to your VoIP system makes this solution impractical.
The good news is that there is another very easy option to consider: a wireless security system. Wireless systems do not need to be hardwired and they do not use your phone line to communicate.
Instead, wireless systems use cellular signals to alert the monitoring sensor when there is a problem. Wireless systems also have wireless sensors that communicate with the control panel that sends these alerts. Often, the various sensors and components that make up the alarm system communicate via radio frequency with the control panel. Each different component of your system also has its own backup battery power so you do not have to worry about interruptions.
With a wireless system, it does not matter if you have VoIP or if you have no telephone line at all. These systems simply do not trust the phone to communicate with the alarm monitors. Because of this, you do not have to worry about backup power for your phone service – but you should be aware that your system will only be as reliable as the cell phone signal. Be sure to read reviews of any wireless system you are considering to ensure that the signals are strong so that your system stays connected.
Related: Wired vs. Wireless Security Systems
Things to consider before using VoIP home security
Before you decide to install a home security system with VoIP, there are a few important things to keep in mind:
- Are you ok with a wireless system? In most situations, you need to find a wireless security system because it is difficult or impossible to find a fixed wired system that can transmit a signal over your VoIP device.
- Is your system compatible? If you want to try using a VoIP system with your home security system, make sure that the security company lists the VoIP provider as a Managed Facility Voice Network.
- How does transmission or communication work? If your alarm system cannot communicate effectively with the alarm monitors, it will lose its efficiency. Surveillance security systems rely on communications from your system to report burglary, fire or other problems in your home so that the appropriate authorities can be notified.
- Backup issues: Consider what will happen if the power goes out. Does your alarm system still have a way to communicate with the monitoring service?
Finding the Right VoIP Home Security System
By carefully researching security providers in your area – including those that offer wireless home security – you should be able to find a company that works with your VoIP system. Just make sure you understand exactly how your system will communicate, what equipment you will need, and how you will be protected in the event of a power failure. By doing a little research, you can keep your home safe even without a traditional phone line.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. Officer Banta has been a member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years and reviews all articles before giving his stamp of approval. Click here for more information about Officer Banta and the rest of our team.