After successfully testing its long-awaited alarm and home automation platform with company employees in the Dallas and Atlanta markets, AT&T recently announced that it will launch Digital Life in eight cities this March – and an additional 50 US cities by the end of 2013. The alarm industry is all ears, as it should be: this is big news. From one recent article, here’s a salient quote:
“The home security and automation market is about to expand significantly,” said Roger Entner, Founder and Lead Analyst of Recon Analytics. “As the capabilities and usability of home automation solutions are dramatically improving, installation becoming easier, the value proposition is becoming a lot more attractive to consumers. Not only can consumers protect their home against intruders, but with these new solutions they can save energy, keep an eye on what is going on in their home even when they are away and protect against costly accidents in their home.”
Of course, what is described here is exactly what FrontPoint has been offering for years – and doing it very well. Of note is the fact that AT&T has announced only that Dallas and Atlanta are two of the eight markets to open in March, although the launch is less than 60 days away. But here is what we do know:
- AT&T has opened its own central monitoring stations in Dallas and Atlanta.
- The AT&T control panel is made for them by Cisco.
- Interactive services offered will include remote control, notifications, cameras, home automation, and other features. However, it appears 99% certain that the Digital Life interactive services will be broadband-based (similar to ADT’s Pulse and Comcast’s XFINITY): inherently less reliable than Alarm.com’s cellular platform, which is used by FrontPoint in every system we have ever sold.
- The Digital Life platform will not provide Crash & Smash protection, since only Alarm.com’s technology platform offers that patented technology. This is the feature that makes a FrontPoint system virtually undefeatable.
- Installation will be professionally done by AT&T-approved providers, although they have not been identified. The details on this point should prove to be very interesting!
- Sales channels will include AT&T retail stores, online purchase, call center purchase, in-home appointment, and possibly even door knocking.
- At launch there will be two packages to choose from: “Simple Security” and “Smart Security.” The specifics of each have not been defined.
- Equipment and monthly pricing has not been announced.
Already there are those questioning AT&T’s ability to provide peace of mind in protecting lives and property of homeowners, when their customer service is regarded by so many as lacking: here’s an example of one early critic, cutting AT&T little slack.
From AT&T’s point of view, the move makes sense. It has a huge investment in its wireless network, at a time when the market for smartphones and data services is leveling off. So anything it can do to squeeze more revenue out of its network will make shareholders happy. Consumers, on the other hand, will likely be a tough sell. After all, AT&T is known for having the worst wireless network of any major carrier, and even more to the point, is notoriously inept at customer service. I’ve had a number of go rounds with this company over the years, but fortunately none involved a life or death matter. I simply can’t imagine trusting them to get this right.
Bear in mind that AT&T is just the latest in a string of cable and telephone companies jumping into home security. And while the jury is still somewhat out, the initial reviews (as documented here) have not been positive for these new entrants: technology that is riddled with problems, poor customer support, and anything but peace of mind is what we’ve heard from many early adopters. What these companies are finding is that it’s just not that easy to reach a level of service and satisfaction that companies like FrontPoint have been offering for years.
AT&T’s entry into home security and home automation should not to be taken lightly, as they have committed serious resources and talent to a nationwide product launch. However, home security is pretty much totally unrelated to their current business. AT&T may prove to be one more company out of its depth in trying to provide true peace of mind.
As a “real” alarm company that is focused on protecting homes and families, FrontPoint welcomes the huge ad spend to increase public awareness of interactive monitoring services – exactly the advanced features that FrontPoint has offered since our inception in 2007. FrontPoint may well be the net beneficiary of their labors, and we’ll be watching closely – but we think it’s a great time to be known for offering the best technology, combined with the best service reputation in the alarm industry
We also expect that the more people research their options, the more they’ll choose FrontPoint. As the leader in wireless home security, we specialize in the best protection: that’s why we’re the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. FrontPoint systems are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat – and when you compare us to these other companies entering our industry, we promise that you’ll be thrilled with our service. Just read the reviews!