Verizon Expands Home Automation Services

Posted by , , at 4:39 pm

I remember one of my college professors sharing a very wise insight: when you ask people to describe other people, you often learn more about the people doing the describing! In much of the alarm industry, which is notorious for being slow to adopt new technologies and incorporate on new ideas, this concept holds especially true. I’ve observed several cycles of competition from outside the alarm industry and can predict how the traditional operators will react – and it’s not pretty. The latest external threat comes from the cable and telephone companies – Comcast, Verizon, Cox, and (at some point) AT&T. Verizon is currently making waves in and outside the alarm industry with recent articles and press releases that extol the virtues of a home monitoring system that is actually not an alarm system.

Verizon Communications is launching a home monitoring and control service for $9.99 per month, which will let broadband customers turn their lights on and off, control their thermostats and unlock their front doors — but the service for now doesn’t provide security-response dispatch. The telco’s Home Monitoring and Control service will be available to all FiOS and DSL customers in its consumer footprint of 12 states and Washington, D.C.

Yes, the technology platform has some cool features, but they are not offering anything more than the progressive alarm companies (like FrontPoint) are already providing: video services, home automation for control of lights, locks, and thermostats, and notification services. What’s more, a “real” alarm company will verify an alarm and dispatch the appropriate authorities, which is exactly what you want. Also, the safest and most reliable interactive alarm services actually run over a GSM digital cellular connection – not over broadband.

Other Danger Signs

I’ve posted on the perils of self-monitoring and why broadband monitoring is no better than a phone line in the past, and savvy home security consumers are aware of the differences – and the many advantages of having the best. Smart alarm providers are not worried about Verizon or the other new entrants: either the products and services cannot compete, or the companies themselves will be hard pressed to deliver the kind of service you can rely on. Comcast in particular comes to mind when we are considering the protections of our homes and families!

Even so, the Verizon entry has alarm companies up in arms, as evidenced by this survey I just got this week from a leading industry publication:

Telecom giant Verizon in October officially launched its new home security/home automation offering to customers after unveiling it earlier this year. The company’s Home Monitoring and Control Service currently has no professional monitoring component. It costs $9.99 per month, with equipment packages starting at $69.99.

  • Do you think Verizon’s offering will cut into home security providers’ business?
  • Do you believe the lack of professional monitoring will make Verizon’s solution less or more appealing to consumers?
  • Do security providers have a competitive advantage because they’re trusted experts while telecoms are new to the space?

From a Previous Post: Here’s the Crux

“Cable [and telco] companies are looking for new ways to generate revenues, and they’re doing this because their core services of broadband, video, or wireless phone and landline are challenged,” one cable industry observer said. “Home security is already an intuitive service proposition. Roughly one-quarter of Americans have a home security system, and the next-generation systems are not based on a phone line.” Since the home control system runs through broadband, if the Internet connection is down, then so is the home monitoring. Verizon does not yet offer a backup in case of Internet failure.

So, this is really just another cynical ploy to offset the cancellation rates for other more profitable services? Too bad. I do agree with the gentleman quoted above 100% on one point: next generation systems are not based on a phone line. The best systems are based on a cellular link for the highest level of security and reliability.

We’ll keep an eye on the competitive landscape for you, and post the particulars when we see something of interest. As our customers know, FrontPoint was the first alarm company to standardize on cellular and interactive monitoring. We’re the leader in wireless home security, and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US – and we earned that spot with technology, pricing, and customer satisfaction that leaves the others far behind. That’s why smart shoppers choose FrontPoint: safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. Just read the reviews, and you’ll want a FrontPoint system too. It’s safer because it’s cellular – and it’s monitored 24/7.

 

Comments (4)

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  1. Alan

    Very interesting and candid post, Peter.

    I suppose, if all you want is home monitoring, this verizon offering could do, but there are cheaper ways to do that… As in just buy the equipment, and don’t pay anything per month going forward (as almost everyone already needs and pays for a broadband connection, so that comes at no extra cost, most likely).

    BUT, for 90% of homeowners who can afford it, I cannot image why you wouldn’t spring for another $35 per month to add real security and life safety… Protect your family from various perils and also our biggest investment, our home and everything in it. Not doing so seems penny wise and pound foolish in most cases, in my estimation.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Alan – thanks for your thoughtful response to my post. As usual, you hit the nail on the head in fewer words than I do! And you are right about the benefits and advantages of monitored protection: it’s relatively expensive for the peace of mind you get, in addition to all the interactive features. That helps to explain why we are growing as fast as we are, and have so many loyal customers – like you! Thanks again.

  2. Alan

    Very interesting and candid post, Peter.

    I suppose, if all you want is home monitoring, this verizon offering could do, but there are cheaper ways to do that… As in just buy the equipment, and don’t pay anything per month going forward (as almost everyone already needs and pays for a broadband connection, so that comes at no extra cost, most likely).

    BUT, for 90% of homeowners who can afford it, I cannot image why you wouldn’t spring for another $35 per month to add real security and life safety… Protect your family from various perils and also our biggest investment, our home and everything in it. Not doing so seems penny wise and pound foolish in most cases, in my estimation.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Alan – thanks for your thoughtful response to my post. As usual, you hit the nail on the head in fewer words than I do! And you are right about the benefits and advantages of monitored protection: it’s relatively expensive for the peace of mind you get, in addition to all the interactive features. That helps to explain why we are growing as fast as we are, and have so many loyal customers – like you! Thanks again.

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