AT&T launches Digital Life in 15 new markets

The telecom also is making a big push to sell its home security/home automation product in AT&T retail stores
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Friday, April 26, 2013

DALLAS—After successful trials of Digital Life last year here and in Atlanta, AT&T today launched the home security/home automation service in 15 additional major markets nationwide, ranging from San Francisco to Miami.

AT&T, which is based here, has said it plans to reach up to 50 markets by the end of 2013. Kuriko Hasegawa of AT&T Corporate Communications told Security Systems News the company also intends “to build Digital Life out nationally in 2014.”

In addition to being available online and from AT&T call centers, Digital Life also now can be purchased at 450 AT&T stores in the 15 markets, Hasegawa told SSN. That makes the telecom a significant player in the growing new trend of selling home security in a retail environment.

“So, if you’re in one of these markets you can actually go to the store and look at the display. … A lot of our competitors don’t actually have storefronts, but AT&T does,” Hasegawa said.

The company-owned retail stores will allow customers “to order and demo the new service with a free customized app,” the company said.

Eventually, Hasegawa said, Digital Life will be available in all 2,300 AT&T stores nationwide.

In addition to this city and Atlanta, Digital Life as of today is now available in Austin, Texas; Boulder, Colo.; Chicago; Denver; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; Philadelphia; Riverside, Calif.; San Francisco; Seattle; St. Louis and select areas of metropolitan New York and New Jersey, the company said.

Hasegawa said AT&T also plans to do direct marketing of Digital Life. But Kevin Petersen, senior VP, AT&T Digital Life, has said selling the product in its retail stores is a significant part of the company's sales strategy. Retail also is an approach increasingly being used by other companies large and small.

For example, The Alarm Company, a small traditional security company in Madison, Miss., says it is having great success with a retail location it opened in September.

Also, earlier this year, SecureWatch24 announced it was opening a store in New York City to sell security systems to apartment dwellers.

In addition, retail giant Lowe’s recently said it is selling its Iris product not only its own stores but in Verizon Wireless stores.

AT&T said Digital Life allows customers to “secure your home, check in on your kids or pets, adjust the temperature, let your house sitter in the front door, or check to see if you closed your garage door, from almost anywhere … in a customizable and easy-to-use experience from smartphones, tablets or PCs.”

The service is professionally monitored. The company has two monitoring centers, one here and one in Atlanta, Hasegawa said.

“Since Digital Life uses all-digital service, most monitoring centers are not equipped to handle the incoming signal without major modifications. For this reason, we decided to build our own U.S.-based monitoring center versus sourcing analog monitoring and converting the signal. This enhances the experience and opens up new opportunities for us in the future,” Hasegawa told SSN by email.

The product also is professionally installed, she said. “An authorized AT&T Digital Life technician will install your Digital Life systems—for certain devices AT&T will coordinate specially licensed AT&T certified professionals, like electricians, plumbers [and] HVAC technicians to do installation,” Hasegawa said.

In its April 26 news release announcing the launch, AT&T noted: “The security business is an $18 billion industry so there are a lot of opportunities for growth—especially when it comes to automation. Only 20 percent of homes have security systems and less than 1 percent have home automation. That’s an 80 percent market availability that we can capitalize on.”

The company offers two packages with what it termed “very competitive pricing out of the gate because we offer an all IP-based platform.”

Simple Security “includes 24/7 home monitoring, 24-hour battery backup, a wireless keypad, keychain remote, recessed sensors and an indoor siren for $29.99 a month plus $149.99 for equipment and installation.”

Smart Security includes all the benefits of Simple Security “plus a choice of three of the following features: motion sensor, carbon monoxide sensor, glass break sensor, smoke sensor or takeover kit. Smart Security begins at $39.99 a month plus $249.99 for equipment and installation.”

Customers can also add other automation features, such as cameras and thermostat control, for additional monthly charges that range from $4.99 to $9.99.