AT&T’s Digital Life in 52 markets this week

The company exceeds its goal of expanding to 50 markets in 2013; ARPU higher than expected
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

DALLAS—When AT&T this spring launched Digital Life, its home security/home automation product, the company set a goal of being in 50 markets by the end of this year. But by the end of this week, AT&T will have surpassed that goal and says it plans to continue expanding to even more markets this year and next.

As of Friday, Oct. 25, Digital Life will be available in seven new markets: Birmingham, Ala.; Las Vegas; Louisville, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; Raleigh, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; and Tucson, Ariz. Digital Life is already in 45 markets so the addition of these seven means the product will be in 52 markets, exceeding AT&T’s year-end goal of reaching 50 markets.

“It is a pretty fantastic accomplishment, especially since we initially started with 15 just a few short months ago in April and here we are at 52,” Betsy Francis, area VP of sales and marketing for Digital Life, told Security Systems News.

After successful trials of Digital Life last year in Atlanta and here, where AT&T is headquartered, the telecom in April launched the professionally monitored, professionally installed service in major markets nationwide, ranging from San Francisco to Miami, and has rapidly been adding on other markets since.

And Francis said the expansion will continue. “We’ll do one more round of launches before the holidays so we’ll come in just under 60 [markets], so it will be big year,” Francis said. Then, she said, AT&T plans to “start off again next year with some more market launches early in Q1.” Much as the company did this year, it then expects each month of 2014 to launch in a few more additional markets, she said.

AT&T told SSN it is not disclosing the number of customers that have signed up for Digital Life, but Francis said that it would be available as an option to as many as 70 million households by the end of this year. She said the company hasn’t set a specific target for the number of markets it plans to enter in 2014 but she predicted it “will be as significant as this year.”

She said the launches in 2014 will include both new markets and the expansion of existing markets.

Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, said during a July earnings call that the company was not yet releasing detailed financial information on the rollout of Digital Life. According to a Seeking Alpha report, de la Vega said: “I can tell you that the early responses by customers has been very positive. The ARPU [average revenue per user] is higher than we had planned. They are adding a lot of video cameras to the services. With every video camera there is an additional charge. Customers love the product and net promoter scores are one of the highest that we have ever seen for any product that we have launched.” 

Digital Life is not yet in every state—the 52 market launches are clustered in select states throughout the country.

Francis said that factors determining the locations where the company decides to launch Digital Life include where AT&T’s network and its customers are located. Digital Life is offered to non-AT&T customers too, but Francis said, “There’s an affiliation there and affinity to sign up if you are an AT&T customer.”

She said the timing of the launches is largely driven by licensing demands in each state, a process that can move more quickly in some states than others. She said, “Ideally, we’d like to be in every market.”

AT&T is among companies, large and small, that include retail as one way of selling home security. With Friday’s launch, Digital Life will be offered in more than 1,256 of AT&T’s more than 2,300 retail stores around the country, and Francis said Digital Life could be offered in all of them at some point. “We don’t intend to build any stores in support of Digital Life,” she said. “We leverage the great existing traffic we have in the stores.”

In the July earnings call, de la Vega said, “I am very confident that our company-owned retail employees are going to do a bang-up job selling this product. So far what we have seen is a very nice lift and we are going to continue to increase our advertising spending to promote the product."