Comcast sells home security/home automation with iControl
PALO ALTO, Calif.—It’s official: Comcast is selling home security and home automation services powered by iControl software in seven of its 18 markets across the country. The announcement was made by iControl, which is based here, on June 9.
In the works for several years, this is the first national broadband provider partnership that iControl has officially announced. The software provider also has a major partnership with traditional home security company ADT, which introduced its interactive services PULSE product in September 2010.
Asked if there’s room for both channels to grow and prosper, Jim Johnson, co-CEO of iControl said yes, noting there’s only about 20 percent penetration of home security systems nationwide.
He said iControl will continue to work with both the broadband and traditional security installation channels to “develop rich interactive solutions [that] fit into their current installation and operational processes.” ADT’s requirements are different from a cable company’s requirements, he pointed out, “and over time they’ll have different visions for how they want their customer experience to evolve.”
Not surprisingly, both ADT and Comcast believe their offerings will have the most appeal to the 80 percent of the market that is not penetrated.
“ADT has a 135 year track record of serving hundreds of millions of homes and businesses with a high level of customer service you simply don’t see with cable and telecom providers,” Bob Tucker, ADT spokesman told Security Systems News. “Providing a broadband pipe and phone service to the home is one thing; relying on a trusted brand to help protect your family in your home is entirely different. We believe we do this better than anyone else,” he added.
Mitch Bowling, SVP and GM of new businesses for Comcast, said they’re offering a “compelling security and home control product ... that will broaden the market [for these kinds of services.]” He added that Comcast has millions of customers and Comcast made the decision to go to market with a fourth core product that “extends beyond security” and provides convenience, energy management, money savings and delivers peace of mind.
Johnson called the Comcast partnership, combined with the ADT partnership, “a huge milestone for iControl.” He said this “creates a dynamic that’s the beginning of a tipping point: We believe customers will very soon begin demanding security solutions that are interactive.” Johnson said a “passive solution that’s solely for the dispatch of police and fire will no longer be enough. This will now be the table stake, the absolute minimum, for what people will demand for their $30 a month.”
The solution that iControl developed for Comcast took several years to develop, Johnson said because it had to “fit into the cable way of installing and supporting.”
The companies had to develop the technology, “an integrated touch screen and security system that worked over broadband and cell, so there’s always dual path of communications,” he said. “We created a single device that sits on a countertop that is the entire security system and monitors all of the sensors in the home and communicates status of broadband and cell.” The system can be viewed and controlled remotely, and connected to cameras and thermometers. They had to develop a line of sensors based on Zigbee technology. IControl also had to ensure that the system would work with multiple hardware partners.
“It’s one thing to have the technology, it’s another to have the right ecosystem developed,” Johnson said. Johnson noted that iControl also recently announced that Visonic enabled their line of sensors with Zigbee technology.
Also of great importance in the iControl/Comcast partnership is the integration with the cable company’s “existing customer service, billing and provisioning system,” Johnson said.
Mitch Bolling said consumers are looking for converged products and converged billing as well.
“In [the Houston market] the touchscreen is converged with the digital voice. There’s a widget on the touchscreen that plays your digital Comcast voicemail,” he said. “We’ll continue to look at other ways to converge products.”
Comcast plans to roll out XFINITY to “more regions this year and more next year.”