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Post new topic   Reply to topic  Vonage® VoIP Forum - Vonage News, Reviews And Discussion » Fax - Tivo - Alarms
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HDClown
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 10:26 pm    Post subject: Confused about Alarm monitoring options, can anyone help? Reply with quote Back to top

I have been researching alarm systems and monitoring options for a week now and am still confused.

It seems like everyone says that if you have Vonage and do not have a land line (POTS) and do not want to add a land line, you should go with nextalarm.com or alarm.com

When I read all these posts about alarm.com, everything indicates they are doing "wireless", which is really just cellular monitoring. They charge $35/mo for monitoring with central station. I'd need to pay $299 minus $100 promo to convert my wired system to a GE System.. Well, for $200 I can add a cellular unit to my existing DSC Power 632 system and pay ADT $40/mo and just stick with what I have.

So what's the benefit of alarm.com? I get all the fancy features of access via the web, but is there really anything else? It seems like alarm.com really is NOT a Voip compatible solution, but a solution setup to bypass Voip and put you straight to cellular. Every alarm system out there from the major companies has cellular options, so why all the hoopla over alarm.com? Is it because of the web based features, or am I missing something?

So then there is nextalarm.com and the ABN adaptor. $11.95/mo for central station monitoring. This sounds like it's what I'm after. As I read more, it seems like you buy a $99 ABN unit, hook that into your Vonage and alarm system and you are good to go? Full monitoring over your Vonage service. Am I understanding this correctly? What's the downside BESIDES it not working if your broadband goes out?

NextAlarm.com even advertises that for $7.50/mo extra, they do cellular monitoring. If you can install a compatible cellular unit on your existing alarm system, why not just pay NextAlarm $11.95+$7.50 and save $15/mo over the central monitoring with alarm.com?

Am I way wrong on this stuff, or have i pegged it correctly? Is there other options?
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caralmar
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I just went down this road today. Had a techie guy come out here and he tried to setup my alarm with Vonage and CallVantage. Both options failed. The tech called in the central station and they debugged the individual calls. Turns out that the receiving end was not getting all of the "handshakes" from the alarm. They advised us that Voip is hit/miss for all of their customers and they recommended a radio system only.

My alarm already has cellular backup. However, it can only tell the central station that the alarm has gone off, but not any other info on which sensor was tripped (the cell backup is tied to the siren output on the panel).

This friday, I'm replacing the alarm system with a new one (Vista panel) that will have a cellular interface that can report contact ids (individual sensors). Monitoring is $19.95/mo. System will not need a landline.

BTW, the ALARM.COM system does NOT use cellular. They use 2-way paging system. I discussed this system with my installer and he advised against it because he felt that redundancy of cell towers was far better than paging towers, especially for South Florida. New system installed will be $600. However, that includes 2 keypads and 2 keychain FOBs. The comparable ALARM.COM system would have been a little less, but the monthly fees and the contract timeframe were not worth it.
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Dan_NA
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Hi HDClown,

I replied to you on MobileVoipNews.com, where we saw this post, but it looks like their comment system is down.

I can't speak much about Alarm.com's service, except to confirm that they're not really sending signals over your Internet connection, but I can clarify what NextAlarm is about. The ABN adapter is a modified Linksys PAP2T phone adapter. It has custom firmware, and the servers at our end are really pretty unusual, with a lot of modifications to let them process alarm signals reliably. We don't use your existing Voip line. The adapter connects directly to your alarm system with a phone cord, and to your network via Ethernet, wireless bridge, powerline Ethernet, or whatever you'd like to use. It doesn't matter to us which Voip service you use, or even if you have one. We have plenty of customers who only use their cell phones, but don't want to pay for a cellular dialer for their alarm system.

You're free to keep your Vonage box too, of course, or you can configure the second phone port on the ABN adapter for the Voip service of your choice (as long as you have a username, password, their SIP server address, etc.).

We also support cellular monitoring for an additional $7.50 per month, like you said. Most cell dialers are meant as backups only (Alarm.com is an exception), but we do have customers who use them as the sole communications path for alarm signals.

There are a few other options for alarm monitoring without a phone line, but without plugging our service TOO shamelessly, I think we have the best offering in terms of price, reliability, and additional features.

Thanks for your post.

Daniel Elliot
Chief Operating Officer
NextAlarm.com
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caralmar
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Hi Daniel,

I still don't get the reason why anyone would use anything but wireless to report alarm conditions. Don't all thieves know that the first thing to do is cut off communications to their intended targets? Simply take a pair of cutters and snip the TV cable and phone lines to the house and then you're "golden".

In my neighborhood, every home's phone and cable TV hookup is clearly seen from the street and available to anyone who wants to mess with it.

In the end, the whole reason why you even bother to monitor an alarm is precisely for those times when you actually need it... wireless is the only way to go for that. Thieves would not be able to disable it in enough time before it reported the alarm. This whole discussion about getting this to work with Voip is academic.
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Dan_NA
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I can't really argue with that. If your cable is cut, your alarm system won't communicate. We do monitor your Internet connection by polling the ABN adapter periodically (set by the user, anywhere from every 5 minutes to once per day), and will notify you if your connection goes down. It's been our experience that Internet connections don't get cut as often as phone lines, but of course that may change as time goes on. A cellular backup is always good to have in case your line is cut, and we do support them.

I'll also point out that our price is much lower than pure cellular solutions, and that we don't require any kind of term commitment or contract length.
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HDClown
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Dan,

I went to the nextalarm.com site and filled out the form and it told me I'm not in an area directly covered by nextalarm.com and had to go through someone you partnered with. Then it told if I continue signup, I'd enter into an agreement with them. I'm trying to find out if my DSC Power 632 is compatible first, since the website says that's what step 1 is with filling out the form. What do I do from here?
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DSewhuk
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Having been a lurker for a while, I wanted to add that I just installed the nextalarm.com ABN box and it seems to work very well. Every test run makes it though just fine, unlike the ADT box over Vonage. As a bonus you can still call the alarm company on your Vonage phone if you ever do set the thing off by accident.

I see one of the nextalarm honchos has been on here, the one confusing part with setting this up was the inability to set the e-mail notifiers until you "activated" the service. Other than that, all my interactions with setup questions have been quick and helpful. The log feature and other setup was pretty straightforward.

Besides the standard calling you and the police service, they can e-mail multiple people whatever an alert occurs when using this service. An extra extra benefit, its less expensive than ADT, and it works!

The ping verifier is nice, but a couple of times a month I get a short disconnect notice. I suspect this might be when Time-Warner Cable does some maintenance thingy. Mostly this occurs at 1-3 in the morning, and once in the afternoon. Usually this "outage" is less than 10-15 minutes. It tells you when the connection is restored as well. I currently have it set for a the paranoid 5 minute ping interval.

Good Luck with your situation,
Dave
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miked2
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Posts: 94

PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

We have alarm.com at each of our two homes. I love it! It's "voip compatible" in that they use cell phone signals (gsm I believe) to transmit events. Besides the standard functionality of an alarm system, you can set it up so that you get emails when various non-alarm events occur, and you can arm/disarm using their web interface.

Here's how we use it:

1) I can keep tabs on the person who's supposed to be watching our other house. When the alarm's disarmed, I get an email, and when the alarm's re-armed, I get an email. If the person forgets to rearm the alarm, I can do that remotely.

2) I have a sensor on our outside gate to the backyard, which is an always "non-alarm" sensor (i.e., it never arms). This way I know when/if the pool guys have come, as well as when/if the landscapers have come.

3) Sounds silly, but I have one door sensor that always sends me an email when it's opened, so that I can track how long my walks with the dog are . . . .

The GE hardware has been robust for us; no problems. In both houses, there were existing systems, one which was hardware only, and one which was a hybrid wired/wireless system. In both situations, it took about a day for them to change everything over to alarm.com.

Also, note that alarm.com is not the actual monitoring company. In Seattle, Protection One is, and in Phoenix, it's Az Security. Both of these are very large and reputable companies, and handle all the alarm-oriented events that are sent by the alarm (just alarm.com gets the non-alarm events). You can call up the monitoring company and do a system check no different than any other alarm company, etc. Think of alarm.com as more of a bootstrapping onto the alarm's normal functionality.

The one advantage that alarm.com touts is that it doesn't matter if your Internet connection goes down. Well, to be honest, our Internet connection is pretty reliable, so I haven't seen that as an issue. The thing I do like about alarm.com is that you can talk to real people -- at alarm.com, at your monitoring company, and with your end dealer who does the install and with whom you sign the contract -- at any time. What made me nervous about some of the other "voip compatible" services out there is that everything had to be done by email.
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Dan_NA
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Hi again,

Sorry I've been absent. This isn't a forum I normally frequent, and to be truthful, I forgot to check back.

HDClown:

The Power632 is definitely compatible with ABN. It sounds like you're in an area where we have partnered with Amcest Nationwide Monitoring. This is for licensing purposes only (they are licensed in several areas where we aren't). The prices and features you'll receive are identical.

DSewhuk:

We actually did originally let people set up E-Notify before activating their account, but we had a problem with people never activating their accounts when it was like that. They would just use E-Notify forever. Now that we offer a free, E-Notify only service, it's not as big a problem, so we will probably revisit that decision.

Thanks for your other comments.

Daniel Elliot
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