ESA Responds To FCC’s National Broadband Plan

The Electronic Security Association (ESA), through its involvement with the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC), will continue to work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as it begins moving forward on its recently released National Broadband plan.

The FCC unveiled its 300-plus page National Broadband Plan March 16, envisioning a series of rule-making proceedings to expand broadband coverage to every American. The AICC submitted comments to the FCC on the plan in January.

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress directed the FCC to create a national broadband plan that seeks to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband capability. About half of the plans recommendations are addressed to the FCC, while the remainder are for Congress, the Executive Branch, and state and local government, working closely with private and nonprofit sectors.

The plan calls for several actions over the next decade, including the transition from a circuit-switched telephone network to an IP-based network. Section 4.5 of the plan suggests the FCC start a proceeding on the transition that asks for comment on a number of questions, including whether the FCC should set a timeline for a transition. The Section concedes that such a transition will take 'a number of years'.

Today, approximately one-third of Americans live, work and go to premises where security systems are utilized. Accordingly, many Americans would be impacted if the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is retired before there is a thorough understanding of how PTSN is relied upon everyday in security and life safety applications.

As the AICC stated in its comments to the FCC, the industry sees great potential in broadband development and IP-based communications in connection with alarm services. Advantages include the ability to transmit more data at faster speeds from a protected premise to the monitoring station.

However, the ability of the alarm industry to rely on broadband and IP-based communications will be hindered if all aspects of the communications path are not reliable. Further, the industry supports a gradual transition to broadband and IP-based communications to ensure compatibility with existing services and equipment.

ESA realizes that its membership is composed of different types and sizes of companies and that transition to broadband can be complicated and resource intensive. A gradual transition will provide smaller companies the opportunity to make the changeover in a more economically feasible manner.

ESA will maintain its active involvement in the AICC, and will continue to monitor the impact of the plan on the alarm industry. As the FCC moves forward with its rule-making proceedings, the association will provide support in areas where industry expertise can be most useful to ensure Americans can receive the same, reliable security services they currently do through the PSTN.

ESA's government relations team will actively monitor and lobby Congress to ensure that the impact the plan will have on the industry is considered when legislation is drafted. ESA will also work closely with its members and other industry groups to develop a long-term industry perspective of the technology changes impacted by this plan.

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