AT&T to launch Digital Life in eight markets in March

AT&T retail stores are key to sales strategy; door knocking is possibility
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

DALLAS—After entering the security space last summer with trials here and in Atlanta of its home security/home automation service called Digital Life, AT&T announced this week it will launch its offering in eight markets in March and have it available nationwide by the end of 2013.

Kevin Petersen, senior VP, AT&T Digital Life, told Security Systems News that this city, where AT&T is based, will be one of the markets for the March release and another will be Atlanta. The other six markets are not being revealed yet, he said.

AT&T plans to roll out the professionally installed, professionally monitored Digital Life in up to 50 additional markets this year. Petersen declined to name those markets, but said the offering will be essentially nationwide. “These are significant metropolitan areas,” he said. “We’ll go about the rollout in 2013 in a very disciplined fashion. We’ll have announcements throughout the year in terms of different groups of cities that we’ll be going to.”

In a prepared statement, Petersen described Digital Life as a “wireless centric home security and automation experience with its unique integration and an intuitive app to control every feature from your smartphone, tablet or PC. Combined with AT&T’s wireless network and unparalleled distribution channels, Digital Life will offer exciting new innovation.” Homeowners can use it to control thermostats, check on pets via live video, and lock and unlock doors.

When it comes to sales, he said AT&T is “looking at all distribution channels,” including door knocking.

However, he said demonstrating and selling Digital Life in AT&T retail stores “is a significant part of our sales strategy and really something that doesn’t exist in the market today.” The company has more than 2,000 retail stores around the country.

AT&T first demonstrated Digital Life at its flagship store in Chicago in September. The demos have been in four retail stores as part of the trial, but that will expand with the commercial launch in March.

“We will be at all stores in the markets where we’re actually deploying the service,” Petersen told SSN.

He said the retail trials have been well received by customers. “It’s a way for someone to come in on their terms and talk to a professional, as well as really just browse and look at everything the system has to offer in a non-threatening environment,” he explained. “We’re finding that people love to experience. It’s one thing to talk to somebody; it’s another thing to hand them an iPad or smartphone and truly allow them to look at the system in their own personal terms of ‘How might I use this system? What could it mean to me? What could I do that I can’t do today?’”

The product is also being distributed online and through call centers and by having an AT&T sales consultant come to a customer’s home, Petersen said.

Digital Life will be professionally monitored by AT&T’s UL-listed monitoring centers, one built here and one built in Atlanta, staffed by AT&T employees, Petersen said.

The company will have “dedicated outside partners” doing the installations, he said. Those technicians will be “branded as AT&T, with our shirts, our tools, our trucks and access to our system. They are seen as us,” Petersen said.

The trials of Digital Life last summer were with AT&T employees here and in Atlanta, so the launch this year will be the first application with the general public. The company is confident because its employees are often “the toughest critics of our services,” but those testing Digital Life were excited about its “intuitive nature” and found it very easy to use, Petersen said.