What Will The Burglar Alarm Industry Do When No One Has A Landline Anymore?

The burglar alarm industry is deeply in love with landlines. While cellular radios that can connect to alarm panels are available as optional add-ons, they are generally used as backup communication, with telephone being primary. The ESA maintains this pro-con list that an installer can use to steer a potential customer towards using telephones.

On the one hand, telephone lines are incredibly resilient, even in a natural disaster. They haven't changed much since the early 1960s, so 30 year old alarm panels are just as compatible with central stations as brand new panels are. And they're cheap. A landline can be had for as little as $15 a month, assuming a customer doesn't already have one and assuming they don;t get some kind of package deal with their internet or television service, and the average cost to the consumer for monitoring is about $30 a month.

Cellphone radios, on the other hand, come in multiple formats with different coverage areas. That means that an alarm installer will need to offer one customer a 3G radio and another customer an LTE radio, while having to upgrade a third customer's 2G radio. They also require power to operate. Customers living in rural areas may not be able to use cellular at all. Average cost to customers for data service is ~$15, plus ~$50 for the monitoring.

However, the number of landlines keep dropping. More than 40% of households don't have a landline at all, and that number keeps climbing all the time. At a certain point, telling a residential customer "get a landline if you want service" just won't fly anymore. On the other hand, for a lot of customers, $75 a month is going to be tougher to swallow than $30.

How should the alarm industry get in front of this?

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