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Security Guards, Alarm Companies Object to Australia's National Fiber Network

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-mean-you-love-unemployment? dept.

Australia 156

natecochrane writes "Australia's proposed high-speed National Broadband Network has put the fate of more than a million security alarm systems that alert Australians to fire, home invasion, break-in and medical emergency in limbo pending the building of a simulated test bed next year. A group that represents security guards and those that supply monitored alarms has concerns that ranged from the inconvenient ('angry customers woken by their alarm systems beeping' during a nightly NBN upgrade) to life-threatening in the case of medical alarms, its CEO said. 'Under the fibre-optic system there won't be that redundancy and backup [from the copper phone system]. So if it goes down no one will know,' ASIAL CEO Bryan de Caires said."

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Yeah, because (4, Insightful)

CrashandDie (1114135) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559182)

The system we've used for (nearly) decades where when a system stops responding, we know there's some kind of failure, and we send out alerts is absolutely impossible to utilise with fibre...

Re:Yeah, because (5, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559318)

More to the point the copper network is noisy as hell. It used to be that you would see fire engines in the Melbourne CBD every couple of hours or so because there were so many false positives from the fire alarms, and a lot of that came down to the phone system.

So its gotten much better lately but re-engineering is well over due IIRC.

Re:Yeah, because (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559508)

Don't they sell alarms that use cellular connectivity in Aus? They've had them up here for years, specifically because of the number of customers on broadband connections that interfere with alarms (DSL), and people abandoning the copper phone line entirely (switching to VOIP with the cable company).

(I'm in Canada, not the US, but I'd be very surprised if they didn't have 'em in the US too)

Re:Yeah, because (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559546)

Don't they sell alarms that use cellular connectivity in Aus?

According to other posters, yes. I don't have one myself. Somebody else said fibre optics are power intensive to use so maybe cellular alarms are a better way to go.

Re:Yeah, because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33560382)

Don't they sell alarms that use cellular connectivity in Aus?

According to other posters, yes. I don't have one myself. Somebody else said fibre optics are power intensive to use so maybe cellular alarms are a better way to go.

I have one it is powered by a mobile phone Sim Card

Re:Yeah, because (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559536)

>>More to the point the copper network is noisy as hell.

Yep. There was water leaking into the conduit between my house (in California) and the local box. When we activated our phone line after moving in, it dialed 9-11 4 times, made a bunch of long distance calls, and 70-some odd 411 calls. The police said it was just static when they answered, but that it traced back to our line.

Re:Yeah, because (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559594)

Incidentally the European standard emergency number 112 is very easy to pulse dial when joining cables.

Telstra techs here in .au once described their network of pipes as a secondary storm water system. One wet day I got called out for a traffic signal fault. Our computer room was flooding from water flowing up out of the Telstra pipe, across the floor and under our false floor, triggering a flood detector.

Telstra guy found a pit down hill from our building, and finding it dry tugged really hard on a cable. The resulting flood in the pipe stopped the water flooding our building.

Re:Yeah, because (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559620)

Best way to hide 1-900 calls to sex lines from the wife ever!

Re:Yeah, because (2, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560290)

There was water leaking into the conduit between my house (in California) and the local box.

My favorite POTS story involves an old woman whose phone stops ringing. She still knows that she's getting incoming calls though because her dog barks whenever someone calls her. One of her kids reports the problem to the phone company and a tech is sent out to troubleshoot the problem. Turns out to be a grounding issue -- the ground wire got separated from the ground rod. Why was the dog barking when calls came in? She chained the dog to the outside d-marc and the chain was in contact with what was left of the ground wire. The poor dog was being electrocuted every time somebody called her.....

I log line faults (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559590)

This is a non-issue.
Our corroding copper network is so utterly unreliable that this hysterical stance is laughable.
There are around a million faults logged each year. There are a bit over 10 million lines.
I have not once ever had a customer complain that an alarm siren went off when the phone went dead.
It beeped to say there was trouble, and the security company called their mobile because they didn't get the daily pulse, but never ever has the siren activated.

Yes, it is possible that killing the fibre/copper will kill the alarm's ability to call for help.
Fibre is not any more likely to fail than copper.
This is why most new alarms have GPRS modules. The copper is terrible.

Failed communications do not prevent the alarm from doing its normal monitoring and activating a siren when necessary.

They should look at the up side.
Monitored alarms with cameras. Live streams from activated alarms. Recorded if the network fails.
Remote diagnosis of false alarms. (Camera saw a cat). No other movement in past 5 minutes. No dispatch required.
GPRS/3G fail over.
Remote movement monitoring.
Lets say you have an elderly relative, you can set an alarm trigger if they are in their house and there's no movement in 10 hours.
Sound monitoring. Anything over 100db (loud calls for help) triggers sound monitoring.
The nature of the sound can be assessed, and help sent if required.

The possibilities are far greater than the limitations.

Re:Yeah, because (-1, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560436)

>>>More to the point the copper network is noisy as hell.

You mean it WAS noisy as hell, until they upgraded from analog to digital. Now it's as clear as a CD (albeit 8-bit not 16). Clear enough that we now use digital rather than analog modems. Please update yourself on the latest phone technologies.

Re:Yeah, because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559374)

In Australia Alarm companies charge 3+ dollars per DAY to monitor your alarm.
A response sounds good, but in reality 20+ minutes is not unusual - most junkies are in and out in 5 minutes flat. Usually they hit you with an annual inspection to boot AND lock your alarm system to their company.

I imported one of those Chinese GSM Alarms that SMS's you in case of alarm - for less than 100 bucks all in, including 1/2 dozen wireless PIR's so far all good. (Note the remotes are big and look clumsy).

Of couse ASAIL is worried about loosing easy, recurrent revenue. When owners installed their own camera's that sms's live pictures.(Note some debate if owners can post the pictures of thieves on the internet, especially if they look young) or you picture is good enough to find a facebook match.

Re:Yeah, because (1)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559718)

Do they do what American alarm companies do, and lock you into a "rollover contract" that only lets you ask to get out of it during a specific 30 days at the end, or it auto-renews for another 2 or 3 years?

Re:Yeah, because (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560312)

most junkies are in and out in 5 minutes flat

Not if you shoot them when you break into your house.....

Re:Yeah, because (0, Troll)

mike-seo (1874258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559890)

If new technology does not gel well with the existing frameworks then it is not worthy

mmmm fiber (2, Funny)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559186)

With enough fiber in your diet, you won't have to wake up in the middle of the night in anger.

But on he other hand (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559188)

The advantage of copper that that devices can run off it but lots of devices can run for weeks on batteries now, and moving to fibre doesn't really change the way communications are done that much. Alarms can probably be cellular now anyway.

Re:But on he other hand (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559424)

Not quite so.

The basic problem with fiber is that the device sitting on the end of it (the NTE) can run at most for a few hours of a fairly big battery pack. Fiber is not mobile or radio where a device in idle consumes next to nothing.

There are multiple ways to solve this (I have had to design a couple in the past, it is not that difficult), however none of them are part of present NGA designs.

Re:But on he other hand (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559472)

I have googled around for a bit but I can't find any simple figures on the power consumption of a simple network terminator. My guess is that you will run a laser diode at 50mA or so. So a simple NiMH battery pack with 3.3 amp hour will give you a couple of days (maybe).

A friend at Telstra described the massive low voltage DC cables they have and how hard they are to deal with. I think the DC supply was always there for pulse dialling and it kind of got misused over the years.

Re:But on he other hand (1)

Meski (774546) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559562)

I doubt that the carriers (Telstra) are going to be really patient with alarm manufacturers crying about not being able to run alarms off the network (yeah, I know, NBN != Telstra) anymore. Alarm makers are going to have to suck it up, and work out a new design (I've seen some terrible alarm system design, at both the customer and base ends)

Re:But on he other hand (2, Informative)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559568)

I have Verizon FiOS here in the US. Verizon claims the battery backup is good for up to 8 hours. The ONT goes into a low power mode when on battery where only POTS is available for use. If you need TV/internet access or longer POTS backup, you can connect the ONT to a plain old UPS without any problems.

Re:But on he other hand (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559712)

I have cable phone service here, FiOS isn't slated to reach my area for at least three years, but the IP phone is kind of "meh." When it works, it works fine, but it silently fails due to network outage during the night every couple of months or so, and if my peek at the logs is correct, it can be for 6-8 hours at a time.

Which in terms of percentage uptime isn't too bad (two 9s isn't great, but it could be worse), I guess, but it would really suck to need to call emergency services and have to wait for that to come on-line. Or worse, an alarm system without backup cellular hooked into something like that.

What guarantee does Verizon have that their VOIP is going to be more reliable than the cable company's VOIP?

Re:But on he other hand (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559796)

What guarantee does Verizon have that their VOIP is going to be more reliable than the cable company's VOIP?

Verizon actually has two phone services running side by side on FiOS right now. There is the "normal" service, which is literally just POTS over fiber. It has no special added features, they literally move your copper pair to fiber and nothing else so it should be the same reliability as copper POTS (in theory). There is also the new "FiOS Digital Voice" service which is apparently VoIP and offers all kinds of features like online voicemail and call management. Both use the POTS jacks on the ONT, the difference is at the switch.

Re:But on he other hand (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560512)

I wonder why Verizon doesn't let customer keep both the old copper POTS and the new FiOS. That way when the network goes down (and it does), you still have POTS for 911 emergencies and simple dialup internet.

I've had my DSL konk-out twice in two years and was glad the plain-old telephone still worked. I could read email and call out.

Re:But on he other hand (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560144)

Which in terms of percentage uptime isn't too bad...

It is very bad by POTS standards.

What guarantee does Verizon have that their VOIP is going to be more reliable than the cable company's VOIP?

I expect that they will just use the FIOS to replace the local copper loop. Past that you'll be back on their existing network. The cable company is routing everything over the Internet. Besides, cable companies don't have much of a reputation for high availabilty. It's just entertainment, after all.

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Guarantees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33560266)

What guarantee does Verizon have that their VOIP is going to be more reliable than the cable company's VOIP?

<SARCASM>Guarantees? That's so old school. We don't need guarantees anymore. After all, it's fiber, and it's all digital, and it's new and improved. Wake up old dude.Beside, if the network fails, you can just use you cellphone. Who uses landlines anymore, Grandpa?</SARCASM>

More seriously; I also have cable phone service (and a copper line for backup) and I feel that your availability rate is outrageously low. You should complain and it may do you well to raise the issue with your public services commission. But, to answer your question, none of these new services offer guarantees. They only offer "promises". You can't get a meaningful SLA for FiOS, not even for business class service.

The entire communications industry is rapidly changing and what's changing behind the scenes will shock a lot of people when they figure it out. It's not your father's phone company anymore. That's for sure.

Re:But on he other hand (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560100)

I think the DC supply was always there for pulse dialling and it kind of got misused over the years.

It wasn't "missed". It's what powers your phone.

Re:But on he other hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559918)

Why can't a single copper line run adjacent to the fiber? If your putting in new stuff anyway it shouldn't be too hard to implement power along it.

Re:But on he other hand (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560166)

an alarm system built for something you care enough would have two ways to communicate(or more) now anyways. radio and wired, if one goes down it would use the other channel to inform of it, if it was just radio and vulnurable to a jammer that would be no good too. and you only need to keep the alarm system running for long enough to get an alert out, so someone can come and check it.

this complaining seems like unwillingness to learn new tech from part of the security companies, though, not like a real problem. but training is maybe expensive, at least considering how cost effectively they can now probably get pstn technology, and considering that they haven't probably previously passed on the savings during this time prices for old-school telephony parts have crashed(a full kit for a telephone accessible 'security' package goes for fifty usa-bucks from china, sell it for 500+installation fees and you have a nice business).

Is 3g the answer (0, Redundant)

schizz69 (1239560) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559190)

For mission critical or life threatening services a simple 3g service would provide the necesacery backup, or just dual FO connections pointed at different NTU's on seperate networks. Redundancy is always an option.

Re:Is 3g the answer? - no (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559454)

For mission critical or life threatening services a simple 3g service would provide the necesacery backup, or just dual FO connections pointed at different NTU's on seperate networks.

HIGH AVAILABILITY DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!!!

Simple redundant comm paths might get you as far as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_availability#Percentage_calculation [wikipedia.org] 99% availability or, with some engineer finagling, even 99.9% availability. That means that on average such a system might be non-working anywhere from 8.5 hours to more than 3.5 days in the course of a year.

The copper telephone network systems requires a level of availability that defined the term "carrier grade" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrier_grade [wikipedia.org] , aka 99.999% available. That means they might be non-working for little more than 5 minutes during an entire year.

That's a huge difference.

Re:Is 3g the answer - no (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559532)

Yeah, and when some kid wanders into the hospital with one of these...

http://www.methodshop.com/gadgets/reviews/celljammers/index.shtml

Learn to adapt guys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559192)

I would have thought these companies would be jumping at the chance to roll out new NBN based solutions, and thinking of new ways to provide redundancy. e.g. through the 3G phone network.

Actually great for these companies! (5, Insightful)

dowlingw (557752) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559202)

I would have thought the monitoring companies would have loved the NBN, it means they can ditch large, space and power consuming analog PSTN gear with power and space efficient routers. As far as saying theres no monitoring, thats BS. If you're offering a Layer 2 wholesale product, you can see whether or not there are tunnels established for that client, and if the tunnel is up - you can poll to see if the device is reachable. Also a win for alarm system companies, who now get a chance to make ludicrous profits on installing entirely new alarm systems country-wide. Sounds like a knee-jerk reaction that if given attention might actually do these parties more harm than good...

Re:Actually great for these companies! (5, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559410)

They already make ludicrous profits from installing the current POTS systems, which then sit and do nothing for 99.9% of their life. What they don't want is to have to eat the investment in coming up with a whole new system that can also sit and do nothing for 99.9% of the time.

Re:Actually great for these companies! (1)

mcbridematt (544099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559430)

In fact, under the NBN model, they could sign up and carry their own traffic from the alarm*, bypasing the telco middleman. Downside is they can pass the ongoing connection cost to the consumer.
* (Presumably the ethernet ports on the ONT can be vlan segregated)

Re:Actually great for these companies! (1)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559736)

I've had "Securitel" monitored alarms, both the type where cable integrity is monitored at the exchange and the type where the alarm system dials out over PSTN with a low baud-rate modem.

My current alarm system, the LS-30 [ohloh.net] is much superior to both. Because it's ethernet-enabled, it can be monitored by a security company over the Internet. It also can alert via GSM or PSTN. Of course, one of the features of this alarm system is that the owner doesn't have to get a professional monitoring service, but the choice is there.

I haven't seen security company infrastructure but my impression is that they can achieve much better economies of scale by using the ContactID protocol and net-connected alarms. They can also provide better service to home owners.

Re:Actually great for these companies! (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560218)

We've just had an election and the losers are grumpy. It looks like they are stirring up trouble about the broadband network that they opposed. The arguments against the fibre network before didn't make sense so why expect the ones after to make sense?

Eh? (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559204)

1. If the alarms beep during network upgrades MAKE BETTER ALARMS

Hell, if the current models somehow will do this if/when NBN comes around then you get to make money selling people upgrades surely?

2. WTF? No way of knowing when the system is down?

I can see that if some systems rely on power-over-POTS then there's a downside to getting fibre to the home, but seriously, I would have thought these industry types should be rubbing their greasy hands in glee at being able to offer upgrade services.

Re:Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559292)

1. If the alarms beep during network upgrades MAKE BETTER ALARMS

Hell, if the current models somehow will do this if/when NBN comes around then you get to make money selling people upgrades surely?

Good heavens, are you kidding?
Searching for a heart-beat solution surely does qualify as "doing something". Now, how would someone still call Australia "the lucky country" if one cannot make money without doing anything at all.

Re:Eh? (3, Interesting)

jpatters (883) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559556)

My phone service is fiber to the home, and they installed a box inside that has a UPS battery to supply power to the legacy phone hardware, and to keep it running through power outages. My guess is that the alarm hardware will have to include a bigger UPS because they probably draw more power than an ordinary telephone headset.

Re:Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559874)

Telephone systems aren't powered by the home, Fibre is, that's the problem. You get a home outage and you're stuck with the tiny battery in the UPS. UPS batteries tend to be way under spec after a couple of years, so they'll need regular replacements.

Really about kickbacks (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559224)

It's more about the kick backs the alarm monitoring companies get from the Telecom providers for using their service for alarm monitoring rather than any technical reason. Thousands of homes, at least one phone call a day. A few cents kicked back to the security company. A license to print money - no wonder they are complaining.

Re:Really about kickbacks (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559358)

I don't know about Australia, but here most people pay a flat rate for phone service. They don't pay per call. So what incentive would telecoms have to give kickbacks to alarm companies?

Correct me if in fact in Australia customers pay per phone call or per minute.

Re:Really about kickbacks (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559388)

I am Aussie and local calls cost anywhere from 15c on up depending on which carrier and plan you are with (there are some higher end plans that give you unlimited local calls though)

Re:Really about kickbacks (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559504)

I am Aussie and local calls cost anywhere from 15c on up depending on which carrier and plan you are with (there are some higher end plans that give you unlimited local calls though)

Charge is per call for local calls.

Most people here pay a charge per land line call 15c, 20c or 25c depending on their "bundle".

Hey Australia! The 20th century called and wants it's horribly antiquated billing practices back.

Re:Really about kickbacks (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559396)

I don't know about Australia, but here most people pay a flat rate for phone service. They don't pay per call. So what incentive would telecoms have to give kickbacks to alarm companies?

Correct me if in fact in Australia customers pay per phone call or per minute.

Charge is per call for local calls. Time charges on non-local calls. Back when I worked on traffic signals we could get hard wired leased lines for $300 AUD a year from Telstra within a single exchange area. Our gear was located to minimise the cost of the leased lines. That was two actual strings of conducting copper, point to point. You don't see that these days.

Re:Really about kickbacks (4, Informative)

guruntus (1899766) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559418)

Most people here pay a charge per land line call 15c, 20c or 25c depending on their "bundle". Copper Land line calls - the ones in question - in general are not timed. When the alarm dials out on the land line, it costs 20c or so to the owner of the alarm - not the alarm monitoring company. If the alarm dials out once every day at say 2am. That's roughly $6 a month per monitored alarm to the telco. This also assumes it is one call per day - could be more. The alarm monitoring company negotiates a deal with the telco, to use them and only them. The telco takes the $6+ a month from every person with a monitored alarm and feeds back a few cents (or dollars) to the alarm monitoring company. Over a few thousand houses (or 10's of thousands houses) this is a nice little earner for the alarm companies. Under the NBN, this all ends.

Satellite calling (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559240)

Satellite is around, and easy to implement. You get a basic text device for under $150. If you need more than 60 characters to say "being robbed" something is wrong.

Re:Satellite calling (1)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560214)

Just saying "being robbed" is terribly rude. Bad form old boy, bad form. With a 60 character limit any polite person would be horrified to find that the salient information in their message was truncated off and lost forever, thus:

"Dear Sir/Madam. I must be brief. I believe that my house is "

That wouldn't do at all.

No redundancy? (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559244)

Under the fibre-optic system there won't be that redundancy and backup

Why isn't it possible to amek the fibre-optic system redundant? Isn't that what you want anyway?

ps, a system is down/unreachable when there is no hartbeat.These systems do check for hartbeats right?

Re:No redundancy? (1)

TBBle (72184) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559338)

From reading the article, I believe what he means is power redundancy.

Specifically, right now, if the burglar cuts power to the home or business, the 48V (or so...) on the line lets the alarm system ring home and tell the company the power's out.

If only the were to put some kind of battery backup option for the ONT...

ONT battery backup information [whirlpool.net.au]

Re:No redundancy? (1)

bernywork (57298) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559880)

Actually, most alarm systems have battery backup. If the power goes out they phone home immediately using that. AU ACMA requirements say:

Line-powered CE
The current drawn by CE when connected to a source of--
(a) 100 V d.c. ; and
(b) 50 V d.c.
shall not exceed that which would be drawn by 1 M resistor replacing the CE. This requirement applies 30 seconds after voltage has been applied.
Note: On some carrier network equipment, CSS and other CE, the nominal OFF-LINE feedbridge voltage may be as low as 24 V.

That's not a lot of power, especially to run PIRs, screamers etc, in offline mode that's not enough to keep the chip in a phone alive (Telstra touchfone 200) to keep the numbers stored (They weren't saved in flash for some unknown reason). Even these old POSs still cause ISPs grief to this day due to the load they put on the line when they go online to keep power in capacitance which causes modems / DSL routers to drop out.

Scare-Mongering (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559266)

I wonder why they really hate this system. Putting redundancy checks won't be very hard - using a more secure and reliable transmission kind (satellite? wireless?) not too much of a problem either.

I guess they either don't want to move with the times or it hurts them somewhere.

Re:Scare-Mongering (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560034)

if the Australian POTS is anything like the Norwegian one, the claim of redundancy is more lip service then fact from the telco(s) involved.

What a crock of shit..... (4, Interesting)

bernywork (57298) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559278)

This has to be one of the most bullshit statements I've had the displeasure of reading.

There is two things wrong with this, the POTS copper system ISN'T redundant, they have a single pair of copper going onto a single card in an exchange (CO). They do have an SLA that they have to have 99.99% uptime, and if Telstra / Optus / whoever don't keep the copper line up they get fined by the government (ACA?). Secondly, ANYONE who wants redundancy can get a GSM mobile / copper wire system. A LOT of businesses have to replace their alarm systems every two or three years for insurance reasons (The insurance companies sometimes even pay for the upgrade) and a number of businesses already have this setup. If they have to go to NBN eventually (The copper system isn't dissapearing anytime soon) they will have a copper to VoIP setup with a GSM backup, it's not exactly hard.

There is so much inertia behind the copper system that it will take a LONG time to decomission, (50 years?) I don't see the reason why they would have to upgrade anything immediately.

Yes, there is medical requirements and a lot of dependency on the existing setup, but the new network won't be finished for 10 years, let alone the old one being decomissioned....

Berny

Re:What a crock of shit..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559336)

I have an Ademco burglar alarm in my house that I installed myself. We're a cell phone only household. A GSM communicator sends alarm signals to the central station.

This has an advantage to any telco, phone-over-CATV, or nonexistent fiber-to-the-home I could theoretically have. The alarm's communication line can't be cut--accidentally or intentionally.

The alarm industry was a bit slow to adopt to cell phone only households, primarily because most alarm customers are businesses, affluent, or elderly--and still had phone lines. :-)

Re:What a crock of shit..... (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560442)

The alarm's communication line can't be cut--accidentally or intentionally.

It can, and more easily than physically cutting a line. http://www.google.com/search?q=cell+phone+jammer [google.com]

bullshit-o-meter explodes, news at 11 (1)

sxpert (139117) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559282)

man, what a load of bullshit...
these people are paid by someone that doesn't want this network for the future to see the light of day... lemme guess... telstra :-)

Re:bullshit-o-meter explodes, news at 11 (2, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559324)

man, what a load of bullshit... these people are paid by someone that doesn't want this network for the future to see the light of day... lemme guess... telstra :-)

Nope. They are paid by the customers... to do nothing at all, most of the time and to call a mobile if a light gets on
I reckon the inertia in doing nothing is very hard to overcome (don't attribute to malice what can be reasonable explained by stupidity).

Watchdog? (2)

sheepzilla (1108417) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559290)

Why not have some system that sits there sending a message every 30 seconds, and warn when it stops....

Re:Watchdog? (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559446)

Why not have some system that sits there sending a message every 30 seconds, and warn when it stops....

Because in Australia people have to pay 15c or more per call for local calls. If alarm panels were doing heartbeats every 30 seconds you'd be looking at 2,880 calls per day, or a minimum cost of $432.00/day.

Re:Watchdog? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559604)

They do a 'chirp' on the line, not a phone call. The calls they make are in the early morning for updates and dumps. At least that's what the ones we use to have did. I shared my backup modem line with the security alarm and a coke machine that dialled in overnight to report its stock levels.

Re:Watchdog? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559818)

REGISTER sip:whatever@blahblah

...

Expires: 60

Long Time Coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559312)

Boo friggin hoo, as an ASIAL member myself these systems used in small and medium sized properties has been outdated for a decade and a majority of them suffer from a wide variety of design and security issues. About time they all become obsolete, and guess who will be paid to upgrade and replace them? They are, so I don't know why they are bitching, they should have given proper advice to their clients in the first place in regards to choosing a system and lifetime.

Re:Long Time Coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559356)

AUS Green Card? (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559344)

the systems are becoming more complex so you need more specialised people to do that.

Anyone know how that would sit with getting a green card from the UK?

Re:AUS Green Card? (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559448)

Give it a few years and they might think about it. There are already tons of professions on the official Australia Skilled Occupation lists (http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/sol/)- the "good" ones generally require you to pass a strict competency test from the Austrlian computing organisations or provide a significant, verifiable history to them. Even then, the "sought-after" professions are more management and farming than they are actual IT - Cartographer, Picture Framer, Piano Tuner, Sign Writer and Welder are on there, though.

If you apply for a visa, for example, it's often easier to get one if you can harvest a crop than anything else. You can even get exclusive Working Holiday extension visas only if you work on that side of things.

I had a Working Holiday Visa for Australia - I could have entered Australia at any time in the past two years and stayed for a year, no-questions-asked, and then applied for migration. I have about 17 days left to use it and I can't see myself doing it. Australia are kicking themselves in the nuts in terms of the IT I specialise in (government / education). But to actually get a longer term visa, they wanted me to take tests, prove work history in management, etc. And it would have been easier for me to qualify as a fruit picker or kangaroo-poo cleaner (seriously) than an IT guy.

Re:AUS Green Card? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559612)

I hope they've removed HTML and JavaScript from the list of rare and essential skills. I remember seeing that and thinking WTF.

Re:AUS Green Card? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560140)

Depends on the area. Medical tech might be in demand outside cities and get you rushed in after exam/tests/paperwork.
Australian universities do pump out Unix skilled grads year after year.

is obvious (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559360)

Even in my current sleep-deprived state, it seems obvious that this is unlikely-event fear-mongering from established business interests, or something of the sort.

Alarmist (pun) BS much? (1)

mcbridematt (544099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559392)

Uhh, from what I've heard, back to base alarms work perfectly fine over some existing FTTH rollouts. And some alarm companies are now moving to GSM/3G anyway.

And if you actually bother registering as a priority assistance customer no doubt NBNCo/whoever will give you a free UPS for that ONT.

most dangerous 'life' forms on planet identified (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559408)

They're ALL (corepirate nazi illuminati) freemasons. Many are Southern baptists (Tony Blair?). what a surprise?

a smattering of their ilk; Elliott Abrams Gary Bauer William J. Bennett GeorgeX2/Jeb Bush

Dick Cheney Eliot A. Cohen Midge Decter Paula Dobriansky Steve Forbes

Aaron Friedberg Francis Fukuyama Frank Gaffney Fred C. Ikle

Donald Kagan Zalmay Khalilzad I. Lewis Libby Norman Podhoretz

Dan Quayle Peter W. Rodman Stephen P. Rosen Henry S. Rowen

Donald Rumsfeld Vin Weber George Weigel Paul Wolfowitz

lest one forget to include; most leaders of the 'business'/military/mindfauxking complex . most 'leaders of both political parties, including the president. sounds like a 'majority? the agenda is clear? where does my vote go? see also; toilet.

Not data redundancy (1)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559420)

The article doesn't make it very clean but I think the redundancy referred to is the act of using the POTS network as a fall-back power supply.

Re:Not data redundancy (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560252)

Yes the exchange would have battery/gen power and send down many volts for a long, long time during any local power cuts.
So many firms have been enjoying this "Bell' infrastructure.

Geez, I'm scared now! (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559438)

I don't HAVE an alarm. Never did have one. It's just me, and my guns. Whatever will I do if someone breaks in? Oh, woe is me, poor backwoods nobody, with no alarms, and no one to answer the alarm that I don't have!

Re:Geez, I'm scared now! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559478)

I don't HAVE an alarm. Never did have one. It's just me, and my guns.

I take it you are one of the three remaining Australian gun nuts...

Re:Geez, I'm scared now! (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559530)

Did you include Bob Katter in that? He lives about 10km from here :|

Re:Geez, I'm scared now! (1)

aerthling (796790) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559598)

You can't know anyone in rural Australia. My brother built himself a gun cabinet when he was sixteen and it's already half-full, yet I wouldn't call him a nut.

Re:Geez, I'm scared now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559652)

You can't know anyone in rural Australia. My brother built himself a gun cabinet when he was sixteen and it's already half-full, yet I wouldn't call him a nut.

The correct way to address him when he is holding a gun is to call him sir.

Re:Geez, I'm scared now! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559658)

So there you go. He's not one of the nuts.

Re:Geez, I'm scared now! (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559972)

"I don't HAVE an alarm. Never did have one. It's just me, and my guns."

What, no dog?

Re:Geez, I'm scared now! (2, Funny)

mgblst (80109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560050)

Some of us, you know, actually leave the house. That is what most people use alarms for. Most people don't need a gun to defend themselves in Australia, they are not that weak.

Power from the POTS but a stupid argument anyhow (4, Insightful)

inflex (123318) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559470)

They're likely worried about the power supplied by the telco on the copper pair - however any robber who has the brains to kill the house power probably knows to kill the POTS landline too.

If they (security people) are -really- worried then they'd have made sure that like most other systems they have their own battery-backup built in for just these sorts of situations ( not to mention the whole 3G/Wireless backups which would make more sense in order to eliminate the whole cut-wire silence issue ).

All in all, another pointless beat up by people who probably don't want their cozy world of routine changed (better put them with RIAA/MPAA etc).

People misunderstanding redundancy claim (2, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559544)

People on here are misunderstanding the claim of redundancy.

What the guy is talking about is with the POTS, your telco has giant battery and generator warehouses that can run the entire city grid for 48+ hours in the event of power outage. Normally, this is not the case with fibre, especially at all of the junctions.

Re:People misunderstanding redundancy claim (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559574)

So far as I've seen, Telstra (as do most telcos) implore designers NOT to depend on the power over their network (for several reasons). I've not seen a SLA documents regarding telco power but I've seen plenty of "use power off our lines and we'll fine your arse" ones - hence it's a bit of a bad design in the first place for these security people to have relied on it as their fail-over (yes, I know there are some allowances regarding vampire-tapping the power).

Re:People misunderstanding redundancy claim (1)

bernywork (57298) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559730)

I'm not mistaking the understanding for them saying that they are redundant (I know what their version of redundant is, I know what mine is too), what I'm saying is that he is mistaken when he claims the phone network is redundant. It's not. Most fibre installs I have seen (Including home installs) have had 8 - 12 hours of backup power. I haven't seen a power outage in Sydney last longer than that for a very long time. (Once in my growing up there, a transformer at the local power station caught fire and blew up)

Re:People misunderstanding redundancy claim (3, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559920)

You know, one thing I've not understood for years is why the Telco can't simply run fiber cables that have a couple copper conductors physically joined to the fiber, for power? Very often I hear this argument that copper lines can be used to provide enough power that the phone works even when main power is down. With digital, the argument goes, power goes down, you can't use the phone even if the fiber line is perfectly fine and the telco has power at their equipment.

So, it seems the obvious solution is to bring some (low) power in along-side of the fiber cable. Then, whatever piece of equipment terminates the fiber cable at the residence, can distribute that power to the house (e.g. if it ties into a copper analog phone cable in the house that a POTS phone plug into, the power can be channeled out onto the analog plug of the fiber router, and if there is an ethernet network hooked up to the router, the router could channel power also onto the network (Power-over-Ethernet), so any devices which can be powered via PoE (like a properly designed alarm system, WiFi AP, VoIP phones, etc) will still be powered. You could further supplement this setup by having a UPS attached to the fiber router, so if for some reason power from both telco and mains was cut, you'd have a small reserve of battery power (say a few hours) to keep your home network going.

Unfortunately, I don't hear any noise in the telecoms industry to implement such a thing.

Big news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559704)

Most secure alarm transfers already go over IP.

It's basically a special terminal card which attaches to the alarm central with RS232, turns it over to IP and tunnels it to the guarding company. Theese usually have GPRS/3G/Edge as a fallback. They're battery backupped.

The link is monitored 24/7h, and when the tunnel drops, it switches over to the fallback and causes an alarm.

This makes old phonecentrals obsolete (thank you dear God.)

PING (2, Informative)

dsstao (855537) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559748)

There are so many examples of single-point-of-failure scenarios that we already have a solution for it - heartbeat monitoring (PINGs). The alarm/security company sends out heartbeat checks every 2-5 seconds, the device at the customer's home responds. If it doesn't, an alert pops up. It's clean, simple, and is done probably millions of times a day already. Is this article serious that people are legitimately worried that no one will know when a line goes down? And, for someone else who mentioned it - have a cellular backup... if the pings fail, try to get to it through a secondary (cellular) network. If that doesn't work, an alert pops up and a call goes to the homeowner asking if their house hasn't exploded, taking the security equipment with it or something.

lol (4, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559776)

I work for a large telco and coincidentally monitor alarms all day long. Our sites that are on copper go down constantly. Every lightening storm knocks out hundreds of customers. We always joke when a site switches to fiber that we'll not be talking to them anymore. Sometimes we call the local techs to say goodbye. Why? Because once a site switches to fiber they NEVER go down again. It's like they vanish off of our alarm maps. The simple fact of the matter is that the only situations that can drop the fiber connection would most definitely drop any copper connection in the area as well... major router going down, cable cut, etc... This redundancy crap they are talking about just shows how little they know about how it works. The REAL reason they object to this is obvious, I've seen first hand how their "alarms" work. The more sophisticated alarms actually have some 1990's era modem inside that dials into the alarm company to tell them theirs trouble. This requires a standard pots line. I've seen these lines go down for weeks before the alarm company runs a standard test and realizes it doesn't work anymore and calls us. Then I find out their customer didn't know what the line was for so they requested a disconnect 3 weeks ago. Great reliability from your security company there... Then there is the OLD SCHOOL way of doing things. The alarm company just uses our copper pair as an Open/Closed circuit. A simple smoke alarm that opens the circuit when it goes off, or, and this was my favorite, the water alarm. The cable pair would end with 2 contacts that were held apart by an aspirin. (no I'm not kidding) if there was flooring and the water got too high, the aspirin would dissolve, the contacts would touch and the circuit would complete and set off the remote alarm. Once ever 3 months they would call me to test and replace the aspirin. If everything switches to fiber, their $2 alarm systems would have to switch to something that could work on fiber that'd cost $100+. That's what they're concerned about.

Re:lol Think of the children !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33560268)

OH MY GAWD! A child could eat that aspirin !

Re:lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33560390)

"once a site switches to fiber they NEVER go down again"

You have been working there for how many years?

Redundancy is only redundant if downtime is acceptable.

so... (2)

HappySam (1535749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559798)

so replacing a single system with another single system means that the first system is no longer there. yes i follow so far... where does the problem with reduced redundancy come in? 1(copper)-1(copper)+1(fiber)=1(fiber) not sure I get this line of reasoning...

Strange, my current system has a wireless backup.. (4, Insightful)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559928)

...I guess, somehow (lol), using fiber precludes using wireless as a backup too?

Redundancy? (1)

tx2 (1646817) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559988)

'Under the fibre-optic system there won't be that redundancy and backup [from the copper phone system]. So if it goes down no one will know,' ASIAL CEO Bryan de Caires said."

I work in the security industry in the US, but I'm sure the configurations are similar. Most fire and security systems here are monitored over POTS lines. The panels are programmed to call into the monitoring station at a certain time of the day to verify they are still online, and if the station doesn't receive a daily test signal within a 24 hour period, the owner of the account is contacted to let them know there is a problem with their panel, dialer, or phone lines. If a phone line itself goes down, most panels will beep, but the monitoring station won't know until it calls in for it's daily test again. So if a homeowner is not at their house to hear the beeping, they won't know their system is no longer being monitored. This process is the same whether it's using VOIP or POTS.

The new method is to hang the alarm panel on the network, and skip the phone lines altogether. Unlike a POTS or VOIP dialer which only "calls home" once in a 24 hour period, the "IP" systems can communicate much more frequently and for cheaper since the end-user isn't using up calling minutes, and the central station isn't using incoming toll-free minutes. The panels can be programmed to poll at almost any time interval without using much bandwidth. Combined incoming/outgoing traffic for a single system at 10-second polling is around 2.3 Kb, at 90 seconds polling is only .256 Kb, and even if pushed out to 5 minutes is .08 Kb. In any case, that's much better than once every 24 hours, and the homeowner will be notified as soon as the signal is lost instead of potentially hours later.

Even if a POTS line is technically more "reliable" and has better "uptime" you're more likely to get quicker notification and be able to address the issue right away with a system that talks over the internet.

Because copper wiring never fails (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560076)

It's impossible for a cable to come down in a storm, or a backhoe dig in the wrong place. Well if the cable is copper, if it's fiber then that happens all the time.

Contact ID over IP is available... BUT..... (1)

mijxyphoid (1872142) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560146)

There are a number of reasons why ASIAL is sooking loudly about this.
Removing Copper PSTN lines from a house precludes the following...

1) Alarm monitoring rebates on calls. Yes, alarm monitoring companies do get rebates from Telco companies based on incoming calls. (You will notice that in Australia all alarm monitoring back to base numbers are 1300 numbers, and are charged accordingly by the telcos...)
The rebates are not much, actually they are only a couple of cents a call... But a typical alarm system makes 3 calls a day (Arming, Disarming and a test report).

2) GSM modules for alarm panels are available. Yes, you can easily add a GSM module to any existing alarm system which allows the alarm to make GSM calls to the monitoring station.
This solution though is expensive for the consumer.
(I.E. paying for 1300 calls on a mobile plan...) You will find only commercial clients are willing to do this.

3) Existing infrastructure for the monitoring company is rendered obsolete. Monitoring companies need multiple incoming lines, multiple alarm receivers, redundancy and fail-over systems just like large IT departments. The most expensive equipment for alarm monitoring companies is the Alarm Receivers, followed by the software... (Old Ademco receivers can cost $10,000 for a 2 line system... You will need two of these at least for redundancy)....

IP Alarm solutions are starting to become viable... Contact ID over ID is available on some of the more premium systems...
The problem is the protocol itself is not greatly standardized.
An example, Paradox systems require a propriety Paradox IP Receiver, and the monitoring software must support the receiver as well...
This situation will become better once more and more products support Contact ID over IP, how ever, there is no opportunity to receive kickbacks from telcos using this system, (Unless you are using proprietary VPN GPRS solutions from Telstra / Optus which is expensive for the station and the consumer), and the investment required for Contact ID over IP is quite substantial.

Basically, like all industries, Alarm monitoring companies will need to adapt, or they will face extinction.

Because fiber optic is bad? (1)

Gadgetank (1897462) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560608)

Thats not good. I'm surprised this company doesn't have a backup plan in place. Fiber optic was suppose to be a good thing for people.
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