Managed facilities-based voice network

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A managed facilities-based voice network, or MFVN, is a physical network owned and operated by a voice service provider that delivers traditional telephone service via a loop start analog telephone interface. MFVNs are interconnected with the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and provide dialtone to end users. Historically, this was provided by equipment at Bell company central offices, however today's MFVNs can include a combination of access network (last mile network of copper, coaxial cable, or fiber optics), customer premises equipment (CPE), network switches and routers, network management systems, voice call servers, and gateways to the larger PSTN.

MFVN providers include cable operators and telephone companies, but do not include Internet based providers such as Vonage, Magic Jack, and others that use the public internet to carry calls.


MFVN providers:

(a) Manage and maintain their network to ensure end-to-end service quality and reliability from the service subscriber location to the PSTN or other MFVN peer network,
(b) Provide a service that is functionally equivalent to traditional analog phone service with respect to dialing, dial plan, call completion, carriage of voice signals and protocols, and loop voltage treatment,
(c) Provide real-time transmission of voice signals that carry FAX, data, Point of Sale (POS), burglar alarm and fire alarm system formats unchanged,
(d) Provide both professional installation and subscriber information on home wiring practices for residential installations if self-installation is available, which preserves primary line seizure for alarm system interconnection, and
(e) Have major and minor disaster recovery plans to address both individual customer outages and widespread events such as tornados, ice storms or other occurrences of a catastrophic nature, which include specific network power restoration procedures equivalent to those of traditional landline telephone services.


The term MFVN was introduced in 2007 by various telephony user organizations and stakeholders who rely on telephone service to provide security and life safety services. The concern of these organizations and stakeholders was the reliability of new telephone technology and services. This new technology was based on packet voice technology, or the Voice over Internet Protocol, which was not well understood. These organizations and stakeholders increasingly realized that they could no longer simply assume that phone service would be reliable enough, because it was increasingly being delivered in various ways, even by traditional providers. Clear performance requirements were needed to define when a phone line was suitable for security and life safety services.

This issue was not new, as analog copper based networks had been transitioning to digital telephony technology for 25 years (via fiber buildout by telephone companies), and to IP technology methods for the last 10 years (via broadband buildout by telco, cable, and competitive local exchange carriers). What was new was that copper based analog phone service was not even an option anymore in many areas, as it was being completely replaced by digital and IP based phone service.

Starting in the early part of the 2000s, IP based voice services began being offered by non-traditional providers such as cable television service providers and Internet voice service providers. The demand for these services grew due to competitive pricing and value added services not offered by the traditional telephone providers. The use of these non-traditional telephone methods for security and life safety communications was not well understood, so use was discouraged and in some cases not allowed by local authorities. There was no distinction between voice services provided over the "best-effort" Internet and voice services provided over managed facilities. It became clear that only managed facilities based providers could assure reliability end to end. Only facilities based providers could monitor and maintain the expected quality of service (call quality, operation during power failure, wiring procedures that guaranteed pre-emption of existing calls for emergency calls, and local disaster recovery capabilities).

In 2007, the concept of the Managed Facilities-based Voice Network was introduced by non-traditional telephone providers as a way to think about the PSTN as a collection of managed networks, rather than as a single, monolithic entity.

The National Fire Protection Association incorporated this concept into the latest fire code, NFPA 72 2010, which is now the basis for determining whether a given phone line is an acceptable method for fire alarm signaling transmission from a protected premises to a supervising central monitoring station. Local authorities, such as fire inspectors, now no longer need to make these determinations on an individual case basis.[1]

States have begun to recognize and accept the use of MFVN. In Florida, it has been adopted by statute, whereby all quaified MFVNs are now allowed for fire alarm monitoring.

The following diagram is a high level view of the different types of MFVNs vs non-MFVNs compared side-by-side. They are the non-MFVN Internet VoIP, Plain Old Telephone Service MFVN (POTS), MFVN Cable, MFVN DSL, and MFVN Fiber.

  • An overview comparing MFVN and non-MFVN when connected to alarm systems to a monitoring service*


  1. ^ NFPA (2009). National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, NFPA72 2010 edition. National Fire Protection Association. pp. 26 – 3.3.141, 164 – A.3.3.141. ISBN 978-0-06-464133-3. 

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