Personal alarm: how long will fixed lines remain ‘fixed’?


In the Netherlands hundreds of thousands of people, mainly elderly people, have a personal alarm. The majority of all these people are still using a so-called fixed line. The word ‘fixed’ has a familiar ring to it, but the choice of fixed-lines also entails certain risks.

In this article I will point out five of these risks: these are matters that we should in any case consider if we have to make a choice between fixed or mobile personal alarms. When I am talking of the ‘fixed line’, I am referring to both the old-fashioned analogue copper wire and the digital telecom connection in the house. This is because nowadays analogue lines are rapidly being digitalised. This is a good reason for care institutions to consider a switch to mobile personal alarms right now, as many traditional alarm devices are due to be replaced anyway.

Risk 1: maintenance of the systems in the night
You will certainly have seen the e-mail messages from Ziggo or KPN: maintenance work will soon be carried out on our network, we apologise for any inconvenience.  This maintenance work is often taking place at night. This is convenient for many people. But for vulnerable elderly people this entails an additional risk, because a nightly alarm call is bound to be more urgent in the night. 

Risk 2: switching of telecom provider
Many people switch to a different telecom provider every once in a while. In addition to a welcome gift you will also get a new modem. This will be risky, for the consequence of the use of different settings may be that the modem will no longer communicate well with the personal alarm. 

Risk 3: the fixed line is disappearing
Fewer and fewer people have a fixed-line telephone connection. This group of clients would have to pay additional costs of a contribution for the personal alarm on top of their subscription for the fixed-line telephony. Talking about costs, equipment for fixed lines should also be physically installed and dismantled. 

Risk 4: false alarm
A personal alarm over a fixed line only provides a speech-listen connection if you are near the base station. In practice this will often generate a false alarm, which means that caregivers have to come into action while there is no need at all. In the case of mobile personal alarm a speech-listen connection can be established always and everywhere, both inside and outside, and there is less chance of a false alarm.


Analogue lines will be rapidly digitalised, which means that the majority of traditional alarm devices will have to replaced anyway. Therefore, this is the moment to consider a system of mobile personal alarm


Risk 5: check on proper function
The last risk that I would like to touch upon specifically applies to the analogue copper wire connection. Unlike digital systems, that are being monitored continuously, these systems are checked for proper functioning a lot less often. For instance, only once a week. It may therefore be days before you find out that a personal alarm cannot make a connection at all. 

The alternative: mobile personal alarm
We at Zintouch see that care-institutions, because of the above-mentioned risks and for other reasons, less and less ‘stick to fixed’ when selecting systems for personal alarm. And (but I know that now I am preaching to the choir) is not even taking into account all the many other benefits of mobile personal alarm

Roel Snel