Can telcos add home security systems to their growing portfolio of service and product categories? AT&T intends to find out, with the launch Friday of its Digital Life service.
Digital Life provides a home security service with professional monitoring on a 24/7 basis. AT&T-owned and -operated monitoring centers in the U.S. will respond to emergencies, alerting police or other responders. Customers can choose which alerts they want to receive, and can control the system wirelessly from PCs, tablets or smartphones.
The company is releasing the service in 15 U.S. markets, including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco and some areas of the New York metropolitan areas. The roll-out is expected to reach 50 markets by the end of this year.
Kevin Petersen, senior vice president of Digital Life, said in a statement that, with people relying "more than ever" on their mobile devices, Digital Life "offers an easy and convenient way to secure their homes, protect their families and simplify their lives from virtually anywhere."
The service features automated control for setting alerts or management tools for home-based cameras, door locks, lights, thermostats or small compatible appliances. Customers can customize the service with the features they want, and the service can be ordered via the Web site, over the phone, at an AT&T store or through salesperson making a house call.
Digital Life can be purchased by customers who are not AT&T wireless or wireline customers. The service can be controlled through most browsers, and the app is available for iOS, Android or Windows Phone devices.
Two plans are offered -- Simple Security and Smart Security. Simple Security offers 24/7 home monitoring, a 24-hour battery backup, a wireless keypad, a keychain remote, recessed sensors and an indoor siren, for a $150 equipment and installation charge, plus $30 monthly.
'Our Next Billion-Dollar Business'
The Smart Security plan contains Simple Security's features, plus a choice of three of several offered sensors, including motion sensor, carbon-monoxide sensor, glass break sensor or smoke sensor. Smart Security runs $250 for the equipment and installation, plus $40/month. Smart Security customers can also add packages with live camera feeds, energy controls for appliances, automated door locks, water leak detection, or water emergency cutoff.
Ross Rubin, principal analyst with industry research firm Reticle Research, said the home security and automation space is heating up. ADT and Vivint, both established home security firms, are increasingly moving into home automation, Rubin told us, and ADT's security services are in about 30 million homes.
Home security/automation is an $18 billion market, and Glenn Lurie, who runs AT&T's Emerging Devices division, told USA Today that the company wants "to make this our next billion dollar business." He added that home security currently has only a 20 percent market penetration in the U.S., plus only 1 percent for home automation.
Rubin said Verizon and Comcast were among the other diversified services companies looking to enter this space. Home security/automation dovetails with other AT&T services, he said, in that it supports "the mobile lifestyle" and could drive more 3G/4G subscriptions.