MSCA Legal Analysis Clarifies Requirements on Wireless Systems and Testing/Update Services

Dear Colleagues,

In light of the Comcast-Xfinity court order and the recent guidance memo issued by the Board of State Examiners of Electricians, MSCA leadership has undertaken a comprehensive review of the relevant state laws and court cases in order to prepare an analysis of the current regulatory framework for the various types of work we all do.

That review is now complete. Attached for your reference is a Memorandum which will help us evolve our business practices so that we remain in compliance but also have the freedom to operate under the same rules applied to Comcast by the Superior Court order. The analysis also makes it clear that much of our service work for networked systems is not covered by state licensure or permitting requirements.

The key points of the attached Memorandum are:

  • Installing a security system that is purely wireless and requires only a plug-in power connection to an electrical outlet does not require permits or licensure.
  • Installing a security system with some wireless and some hardwired elements requires a permit and a licensed technician or electrician to perform the wired work. Where to draw the line on these jobs should be evaluated on a case by case basis.
  • Any testing, inspection, reprogramming, software upgrades, data back-up or similar configuration work on a low-voltage security, access, video or life-safety system that is already installed does not have to be done by a licensed technician or electrician.

Before distributing this Memorandum, MSCA leadership personally delivered a copy to Charles Borstel, the state’s Director of the Division of Professional Licensure (DPL), seeking his review Mr. Borstel has reviewed and responded that his office agrees with the analysis.

I hope this information will help MSCA members move forward with confidence. It is, however, not the end of the story. While this legal analysis helps clarify matters for now, Massachusetts laws regarding security and life-safety systems remain outdated. The Comcast case exposed these gaps and we must work hard to craft a legislative solution that better reflects the reality of our industry while maintaining vital protections for consumers and public safety. So, I ask for your continued support and help as we work on the bigger picture.

Wells Sampson
President, MSCA