Question: who has to bear the expense of 2G upgrades
    Most alarm companies should already be aware of the  2G Cellular Sunset and the importance to upgrade customers that are  currently using GSM cell on the 2G network prior to the network being shut  off.
    The 2G Sunset is referring  to AT&T's plan that was approved by the FCC to discontinue the 2G (Second  Generation) cellular network.  Most people have already updated their personal cellular phones onto 3G or 4G or 4G LTE.  The sunset date is  1/1/2017, but if AT&Ts network fails sooner, they don't have to spend significant money to repair the old network.  There are places that are already loosing 2G coverage as we speak.  Both AT&T and Verizon have existing 2G services, but most alarm equipment uses AT&T.  There is  generally no choice of carriers, either by the subscriber or the installing  company.  This may change down the road, as the manufacturers develop new  equipment that can work on various cell services, but generally not yet.
    So  to clarify, it ultimately is a loss of network services that will affect the  transmission of alarm signals from the house to the monitoring station.   The alarm will still be able to work as a local alarm system, but at that  point, can't send signals any more.  Although possible to have alternate communications pathways such as land line or IP (internet) monitoring, most systems are single pathway, typically GSM (cellular) only.  Some companies like cellular only, and don't offer alternatives.  Because of additional  cost for GSM cellular, I will often (but not always) offer other  choices.  Depending on the features desired and the availability of land  line or internet, sometimes the only choice may be GSM.  As an industry, when the 2G sunset was announced, the equipment manufacturers (such as  Honeywell and DSC) didn't have 3G or 4G radio options yet, and we were limited  to continue installing 2G until the manufacturers caught up and started offering newer radios.  Incidentally, the current expectation is that this obsolescence and upgrading cycle will continue, and one day in the future they will be turning off the 'now new' 3G and 4G, and we will be in the same boat  of upgrading the same 'old' customers again.  This technology  obsolescence will be an ongoing theme.
    Incidentally, this is a major issue for ALL alarm companies nationwide. Don't quote me on the numbers, but I hear that AT&T still supports approx 3 million 2G customers, so it is NOT a low-impact  event.  Sorry so lengthy, but I want you to understand this issue thoroughly  as I am sure it requires revisiting the contract language and the alarm
company's responsibilities.
    On one of my service calls, the customer challenged that is our  responsibility to 'maintain' the monitoring service of his residential  alarm, and that if that means having to replace his system due to the  cellular 2G shutdown, and that we would be in breach of our contract if we do not pro-actively upgrade his system for free.  He feels that he should now be able to cancel at any time.  He went on to say that  since he often goes on extended trips, that we need to do the upgrade now  (and free) because it might die when he is on a trip.
    I can determine the financial worthiness of upgrading a customer for free or at a loss, but am more concerned about contractual obligations and liabilities.
    I use your all-in-one contract.
    My questions  are:

  • Since 2G will be turned off sometime by 1/1/2017, maybe sooner and unexpectedly, does he have a case to cancel immediately even though the cell system is still currently working?
  • Once 2G is shut off, if he still has term remaining, would he still be responsible for the balance of  term even though the the cell network can not transmit signals any  more?
  • Ultimately, who would be liable in the event of loss if 2G services cease prematurely; AT&T, the alarm company, or the  customer?

Aloha Alarm
    An answer isnt that easy.  You are not  responsible for change in technology, but you shouldn't be installing  equipment you know is going to be obsolete within its working  lifetime.  Sub has a point that you are obligated to continue providing  monitoring - and since you may own the communication system you may have to replace it.  To avoid any confusion it would be prudent to include a provision in the contract that the subscriber is responsible for changing the radio. 
    The Standard Form Contracts already provide that it's the subscriber's obligation to provide communication pathways for the alarm system to communicate.  This obviously isn't the case if the alarm system relies on a private radio network owned by the alarm company.  Even then however the contract makes clear that communication failure is not the responsibility of the alarm company.  So it seems that the Standard Form Contracts already sufficiently cover the issue of change of radio or cellular to update from 2G.
    Clearly your subscriber can't cancel the contract now and he would be liable for the balance of the term.  The contract requires the sub to provide communication, though I think you would need to offer other means besides 2G if it doesn't work.  You could require a POTS line and the sub would be obliged to provide it.  The answer may depend on the term of the contract and if you own the communication system.  Let's say you install a system now and the term on the monitoring contract is 5 years for residential and 10 years for commercial.  Either one brings you beyond January 1, 2017.  If there is alternative to 2G then use it now.  You can't go out and buy up all the available 2G devices and install them from now until 2017 and expect to cash in on an upgrade paid by your subscribers.  That ship has sailed since you know or should know better.  On the other hand, if your monitoring term is short, maybe yearly or no term at all, month to month, or if there is no alternative to 2G at the sub's premises, you can use the 2G device and require an upgrade when the time comes.  Would be good idea to cover that in your Schedule of Equipment and Services to avoid any misunderstandings.
NYS license law proposed changes  
    There were recent changes adopted into the NYS alarm license law. Some of this pertained to networking and of course there were other changes. I'm particularly interested in the networking piece because networking is a big part of many of the jobs we do. I was hoping you could explain what those changes really mean to installers and have they been incorporated into your contracts. 
Mike Serrano
    According to the NYS Dept of State web site the new rules are only proposed; not yet enacted, and may change before implemented.  You can access the proposed rules here: http://www.dos.ny.gov/licensing/alarminstall/proposed21214.html
    The change you refer to is in 195.1:
    "(g) Network- A network, also referred to as a computer network, consists of two or more devices that are linked together through various means (i.e., ethernet, wifi, serial bus, etc.) so that they can communicate with each other and thereby exchange commands and share data that may operate hardware and utilize other resources for the operation of a security, video, access and alarm detection and/or notification system." 

    A change to 195.2 would require an alarm license if one "installs, maintains or services ... conduits and associated wires of an alarm system".  
    The exclusion for a license for wiring found in 195.2 (c) is going to be deleted.  The deleted portion of that rule is "(2) [conduits and associated wires of an alarm system, including]" but that rule retains the exclusion of an alarm license requirement for  "line-voltage connections to an outlet, junction box, or electrical distribution panel;" which I suspect requires an electrical license. 
    Note that the proposed rules require a change in the Employee ID card.  Apparently you don't have to change existing ID cards but must use the new form for employees hired after the effective date of the enactment of the rules.
    I don't think any changes are needed to the Standard Form Contracts to accommodate the proposed rules.
    I am conducting a seminar on May 15, 2014 at the Marriott Hotel in Uniondale, NY starting at 4:30 PM.  This is a 2 hour presentation on the All in One contracts and there will be plenty of time for questions and answers to all issues.  If you want particular issues covered please let me know in advance.  RSVP for this FREE seminar by Clicking Here
    The seminar is followed by MBFAA's dinner and meeting, where my office will do a presentation on structuring your alarm business with comparison of corporations, DBA, LLC.  This will be presented by Jennifer Kirschenbaum,Esq.  RSVP for the MBFAA meeting here

TO SUBMIT QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS REPLY TO THIS EMAIL OR EMAIL Ken@Kirschenbaumesq.com.  Most comments and questions get circulated.


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Metropolitan Burglar and Fire Alarm Assoc of New York.  May 15, 2014 4:30 PM to 6 PM at Marriot Hotel, Uniondale, NY.  Comprehensive analysis and comparison of the Standard Form All in One contracts.  All alarm dealers welcome.  No charge for attendance. Dinner and MBFAA meeting will follow the seminar.  For more info and to RSVP contact Alan Glasser, Executive Director of MBFAA at 718-894-6712 or mbfaa.ny@gmail.com

Northeast Security & Systems Contractors Expo  Thursday, May 22, 2014 10 am to 5 PM at  Royal Plaza Trade Center,  Marlborough, MA.  registration  https://www.expotracshows.com/neacc/2014/  Presentation on Alarm Law issues and Q&A will be at 2 PM.  For more info contact Gary Spaulding, NEACC President

207-384-2420 gary@spauldingsecurity.com

Alabama Alarm Association.  AAA's Fall Meeting and Trade Show - October 21, 2014 from 3 to 5 PM at DoubleTree Hotel 808 South 20th Street Birmingham, AL 35205  for more info contact AAA Executive Director: director@alabamaalarm.org  (205) 933-9000 


Electronic Security Summit for 2014.  October 22-24, 2014  at the landmark Broadmoor Hotel. Colorado Springs, CO.  For more information contact Alexander J. Quirin, CEO & Managing Partner, Advisory Summit Providers, LLC.,  (786) 999-9738    alex.quirin@aspsummits.com    www.aspsummits.com