New ‘Cable Modem POTS Lines’ Threatens Fire Alarms

I love technology, with all its newness and the new capabilities. At times, I even love the smell. Once in a while, we all have one of those “what the heck?” moments when we question the logic behind a technology change. In the end we usually don’t have a choice, but changes in one area often dictate changes in another.

First and foremost, I want to be clear. In today’s world, internet is being delivered via fiber or cable modem, depending on the need. At Roundbrix, we deploy more fiber than cable to businesses to have fully appreciable symmetrical and guaranteed bandwidth.

sipPhone lines on the other hand, are delivered in a variety of forms. From the newer SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), to its predecessor PRI (Primary Rate Interface or Voice T-1) to the original POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines, which are the analog predecessor commonly utilized for older or smaller phone systems. More importantly, these analog lines have always been used for both burglar and fire alarm lines due to their reliability and non-susceptibility to power outages. The legacy POTS lines always used to be powered by the Central Office, also called a CO. Here, a copper pair of 24 AWG with 48VDC running through it 24 x 7 makes it RELIABLE. It’s also one of the reasons you never wanted a phone near a bathtub as dropping a permanently powered DC electric source could lead to electrocution. But for a fire or burglar alarm, it was perfect. No matter what happened, including a localized power outage for days on end, these central offices always had power and backup power so you could rest assured these important lines would always be able to dial out should there be a fire or burglar-related emergency. For those of us ‘slightly older folks’ remember that the power might go out at our house, but we were always able to use our land lines regardless. This was built into the design on purpose.

Now for the bad news. In a move to be more efficient, and in also considering superseding aging copper, it appears they have made a major blunder. You see, the power backup on a cable modem is only good for a couple hours, four at the most. What this means is if power goes out and no one is at facility beyond the few hours the cable modem might hold it, your fire alarm cannot dial out! Then it’s up to who sees the fire and calls 9-1-1, meaning a lot more property damage could occur, not to mention possible loss of life as a result. In my opinion, these lines from the service provider should be deployed with a clear understanding of the risk with a way to hedge the risk, which is my next point.fire

Here’s the best solution. Purchase an external UPS unit, typically a 1500 VA system. This unit could add another day or so of power to the POTS lines provisioned through the cable modem. If you need more time, then bump up to a 2200 VA system. This is extremely important for businesses that do not occupy the building during nights and weekends, short of mentioning those three or four days for longer weekends like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here is a link to an APC 1500 for $200 and a link to an APC2200 for $900. In keeping with best practice for UPS units when installed, put a ‘born on’ date on the top and replace it after three years, or more frequently if power outages are more frequent.

Getting one of these units would be a small price to pay to get to greatly mitigate property damage and you may just save a life!

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Roundbrix – Disaster Recovery Site and Private Cloud Services!

As we have grown in size and in our abilities and skills, we have also increased our prowess to serve. Specifically with virtualization, complete managed hosting and high availability, we not only are able to host web site and database servers as we do currently, but we can also support real-time and offline database replication and private cloud services. Yep, more capability and functionality is the name of this game.

What this means to you is simply being able to do more and sleep better for less. More peace of mind is gained by knowing that folks that have been around more than ten years in the technology sphere with over 100 years of experience collectively have your back. At the end of the day, better value and data protection is what the advancing technology brings. This Plan B thinking also raises a few questions to you which you need to have the answers and be quite comfortable with those answers.

      • What would happen if a fire consumed your current location?
      • What would you wish you had access to, like e-mail, database, files, programs?
      • Where are your backups and how current are they?
      • What if you had to recover from backups – what’s your confidence level?
      • How long can you go without access to systems before losing clients?
      • Are you working with technology folks that are seasoned and will have your back?

Answering these questions will likely help you identify possible gaps in your business continuity plan. It’s also about ensuring that the business is well-protected, no matter what! Protecting the business also means to protect those loyal folks that you employ, and trust in me when I say; these folks are your best asset. Long ago, I used to think that getting customers was the hardest thing. It’s not easy, but it pales in comparison of finding great folks that will carry out business execution consistent with the vision that is laid out, as it’s the only way a business can scale.

Description: http://www.mytravelingstory.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/low-cost.jpgNow you’re probably wondering about what all this must cost. The good news is that it’s probably not as expensive as you might think. What’s key in any business enterprise is economy of scale and this is no different. At Roundbrix, we accomplish this by buying bandwidth in greater quantity and leveraging physical hardware using virtualization with all devices arranged in a high availability (HA) array. The true beauty of this solution is in the simplicity of mature technology. It couldn’t be more logical!

So whether you need to securely host an entire front and back end web solution, want to replicate a database or web presence to limit your data loss exposure, or are in need of a private managed cloud, we can be that solution for you!

Leverage newer proven technology. It’s just smart, plain smart.