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Fiber-Optic Phone Lines Won’t Affect Alarm Systems

By Shannon Sandry on Apr 11, 2023 12:09:58 PM

Tags: News, Fiber

As more Hawaii consumers transition to fiber-based communication services, the question about how alarm systems may be affected by this transition comes up more frequently. The short answer is no, the transition to fiber-based service does not impact alarm systems.

Understanding how technology has been changing is a good place to begin for an explanation. For many years, plain old telephone service, known as POTS, was provided over a copper network made up of bulky copper wires that use electrons for data transmission.

Over the past few dec­ades, copper wires are being replaced with fiber-optic cables, which are much smaller, more energy- efficient and use light pulses to provide high bandwidth capabilities. This makes fiber ideal to transmit information at lightning-fast gigabit speeds and beyond.

Consumers with alarm systems that work over traditional phone service should not encounter issues when transitioning from copper to fiber-based serv­ices. Most fiber-based communication services, including Hawaiian Telcom’s fiber-based voice service, will use the same phone jacks in the home or business as POTS. In general, no equipment changes should be required.

When transitioning from copper to fiber services, clear communication with your service provider is key. To avoid issues, flag that you have an alarm system to your fiber communication services provider and advise your alarm company that you’re transitioning to fiber services before the transition takes place.

Many alarm systems must be the first in-line connection to the phone system to work properly. Knowledgeable alarm company technicians will know exactly what to do and ensure the RJ31X jack for the alarm system is first in line and that all individual phone lines come after it. This structure ensures the alarm system can properly seize the phone line in the event an alarm is triggered.

If possible, it’s recommended that both your fiber company’s technician and your alarm company’s technician be on-site during the change from copper to fiber. This way, the alarm technician can ensure the alarm system is working properly and can direct the fiber company’s technician on the placement of the incoming line, as needed.

Depending on how old your alarm system is, it might be a good time to discuss options with your provider. More modern alarm systems can run over high-speed internet connections and wireless phone technologies. Ensuring you have a backup communication plan for your alarm system is important for your safety.

A notable exception is if you transition to fiber-based Voice-over-Internet-Protocol service. VoIP is a specific type of communication serv­ice that has specific advantages and limitations. It’s important to be aware of this if you use VoIP service. VoIP service and technology are not the same as fiber- based voice and internet service. Alarm systems might not work over VoIP service and should be discussed with your alarm or security company.


Shannon Sandry serves as director of consumer product management at Hawaiian Telcom. Reach her at

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