AT&T Digital Life expands to 75 markets in its first year

The telecom also offers free install and equipment for new customers and is touting its retail store strategy as it marks the first anniversary of the home security/home automation service
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

DALLAS—After launching one year ago, in April 2013, AT&T’s new home security/home automation service, Digital Life, has expanded across the nation to a total of 75 markets, the company recently announced.

“We’re very pleased with the first year in terms of establishing a nationwide footprint, the operation, the sales and the customer experiences,” AT&T Digital Life President Kevin Petersen told Security Systems News.

He also said the company plans to keep on growing Digital Life. “We will continue to expand aggressively throughout the rest of the year. Our model allows us to go anywhere our wireless footprint goes, which gives us a lot of variability in terms of that addressable market throughout the country. We’re not stopping at 75 [markets].”

Petersen said Digital Life is now being offered to 65 million to 70 million households and “I think that covering 80 [million] to 90 million households by the end of the year is very doable for us.”

Also, to celebrate its one-year anniversary, the telecom, based here, is offering special promotions to new and existing customers that run until June 30.

For example, new customers who sign up for a package called Digital Life Smart Security will pay nothing in upfront costs, the company said. “Standard equipment and installation ($249.99) will be received at no cost,” the company said in an April 24 news release.

How can AT&T afford to provide free install and equipment to potentially so many customers?

“It is an investment,” Petersen said, “but we really feel it’s important to scale the business very quickly and we’re willing to make that investment.”

Digital Life is sold to customers in more than 1,200 AT&T-owned retail stores around the country and also online or in customers’ homes by appointment. Petersen said having retail stores makes such offers more cost-effective.

“One of the advantages we have in the market is having a retail channel so we’re not having to spend the money with dealers and all the indirect that some of the other folks in the security industry have,” he explained. He said that “if you look at the overall cost of acquiring a customer, our retail channels are less expensive, we feel, than some of the traditional channels that sell security and that gives us the freedom to offer aggressive promotions like this.”

Smart Security is an upgrade from Simple Security, allowing customers to add automation services on top of the premier 24/7 professionally monitored home security offering, the company said.

The $0 in upfront fees promotional offer is for the security part of the Smart Security package, Petersen told SSN. He said the company also is making a complementary offer to new customers for the automation side of package, allowing them to pay for such additions as energy and water detection packages in three installment periods instead of upfront.

Another promotion is for existing Smart Security customers, who will get 50 percent off the standard equipment cost when adding automation packages, the company said.

“Giving our retail stores that kind of tool to offer Smart Security with no upfront fee is powerful,” Petersen said. “We’ve been very pleased with the sales results.”

He said many customers initially come to the stores for other AT&T products, not security. “I call them largely ‘nonintenders,’” Petersen said. But when they spot the Digital Life display and hear the pitch from sales staff—who he said have fine-tuned their skills over the past year to better sell the service—they become interested. “It’s very much an upsell, a ride-along sale with the other products and services we’re selling in the store,” he said.

As of April 25, Digital Life debuted in the following news markets: Corpus Christi, Texas; Fayetteville, Ark.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Youngstown, Ohio; Charleston, S.C.; Topeka, Kan.; and Stockton, Calif.

Digital Life won the Best Consumer Mobile Service award at the Mobile World Congress in February.

AT&T last summer also received Five Diamond certification from the Central Station Alarm Association for its Digital Life central stations, located here and in Atlanta.