Shaw Digital Telephone Services Affect on Alarms

There still seems to be a lot of confusion out there as to the impact of VoIP service on alarm systems. While there has never been any question as to whether or not your alarm system that relies on an analog telephone line will work with a standard VoIP service… for example, from a company like Vonage (it won’t), the recent marketing push from Shaw Cable has led to a lot of confusion … mostly because Shaw, like many North American cable providers, is not calling their service VoIP, but digital telephone service. They are also saying that your alarm system can work. This is very different than saying that it “will” work.

… here is a link to a more technical explanation of Shaw’s service vs. a typical VoIP service…

After speaking with several very confused clients, three different Shaw installers (who each had different takes on the “facts”), a myriad of Shaw managers, several tests of our own and discussions with the Vice President of Marketing for Honeywell (the world’s largest manufacturer of alarm equipment)… here is what we know to be true about Shaw Digital Phone service as it relates to your alarm:

1. Most, but not all, alarm systems can communicate through Shaw’s network;

2. Different systems seem to send the data to us at very different speeds (in a few cases it took almost two full minutes longer than expected to receive the ‘primary’ alarm signals at sites with Shaw);

3. Most importantly, NEITHER SHAW NOR A SINGLE ALARM EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER will guarantee that all alarm signals will be transmitted correctly or completely

What does this mean?

With the absence of a written guarantee from either the company whose network over which the communication occurs (Shaw) or any of the major alarm equipment manufacturers (Honeywell, DSC, GE) Provident recommends the following:

1. Maintain an analog phone line through Telus (or your local traditional telephon company) (although this solution would eliminate any ‘value’ of looking to VoIP in the first place); or

2. Have Provident install a back-up method of monitoring your alarm (either cellular or internet monitoring is available and supported through our monitoring station in Kerrisdale)

If you do not want to do either of the above, we will require all clients who choose to switch to Shaw to sign an addendum to their contract indicating that they understand that there is no guarantee that we will receive an alarm signal from their premises.

UPDATE: Here is a link to an updated post about Shaw Digital Phone (TM) and here is another about Rogers Home Phone… both of which use Packet Cable technology to transmit client telephone calls over a VoIP network.

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* Shaw Digital Phone is a registered trademark of Shaw

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