It seems that when it rains it pours, when it comes to cable and telco providers scrambling to enter the highly competitive home security and home automation markets. We’ve been tracking all these “new entrants,” as we call them, and although their offers can be confusing (even to us!), we are working hard to read between the lines on what they offer, how their technology works, and what consumers can expect. This recent article provides some good background on Cox Communications, the nation’s third largest cable provider, and their expected expansion into new areas of the US.
On the heels of AT&T’s announcement earlier this month that it plans to roll out its “Digital Life” home security service in eight markets beginning in March, telecommunications firm Cox Communications announced this week that it plans to offer its home security service to customers in Virginia. According to a statement, the company began piloting its home security service in Arizona in 2011 and launched in four additional markets last year.
“Cox Home Security is consistent with our desire to deliver solutions that meet the individual and unique needs of each customer,” said Gary McCollum, the company’s senior vice president and general manager. “One home may require a video camera covering outdoor play areas for safety reasons. Another family may want text message alerts sent when children arrive home from school. No two installations are exactly alike.”
More of the Same?
It sounds good, but at the same time it appears that these cable company and telco home security offers are all starting to look pretty much the same, with a few notable exceptions: for instance, the Verizon system is not even monitored 24/7, so it doesn’t really count as a security system. But most of the cable companies are offering services that are hard to tell apart, since they are based on the same technology, at more or less comparable prices, with what we are afraid is more or less the same kind of service that they give their regular cable customers – nothing to write home about. And technology aside, consistently good service is the biggest fear that homeowners have when looking for peace of mind from the same companies who are often among the least trusted consumer brands in the US.
Second Tier Technology
While intrusion and fire monitoring have long been the staples of the alarm industry, it’s the advanced interactive services that have really added the sizzle, with features that include the following:
- Remote arm/disarm of the system
- Text and email notifications, such as door opening, even when the system is not armed
- Mobile apps for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry
- Video services for live camera viewing, and motion-activated clips
- Home automation for the remote control of locks, lights, and thermostats.
But there is only one interactive platform that uses the safer and more reliable cellular network for these interactive services (all but video), and that’s Alarm.com – the interactive platform that FrontPoint sells. Why is Alarm.com with its cellular connection better than the other solutions for interactive services? Here are four important reasons:
- None of the cable or phone companies offer Crash & Smash protection, because they can’t: it’s a patented feature of the Alarm.com interactive platform. That’s what makes Alarm.com systems (like those sold by FrontPoint) virtually impossible to defeat.
- An Internet connection is just as easy to cut as a phone line… with a $3 pair of wire cutters. Burglars are cutting all the wires they can find, with increasing regularity. You may still have intrusion detection – that is, if the provider includes a cellular connection with the system – but you’ll lose all the other features.
- Relying on the Internet means that when you lose power in your home, you’ll also lose all the interactive features – unless you have a battery backup on your modem or router, and few people do. Again, the most basic alarm functions will work, but not the interactive features that homeowners come to depend on…especially when they lose power.
- The cellular network is more robust (and less liable to interruptions) than your Internet service provider. One cable company using the same technology as Cox even defaults the alarm monitoring to the Internet, which is a scary thought to those of us in the alarm industry who are committed to protecting the lives and property of our customers.
Bear in mind that Cox 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 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.
As a “real” alarm company that is focused on protecting homes and families, FrontPoint welcomes the huge ad spend these companies are making 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 our reviews!