Cox at home with security in Arizona

The telecom has joined the state alarm association and plans to launch in other markets in 2012
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

MESA, Ariz.—Cox Communications, one of the largest cable entertainment and broadband service providers in the country, has been offering a home security/home automation product in Tucson, Ariz., since last summer, and expects to launch it in additional markets in the new year, a company spokesman said.

“We’re still going through the single-market launch and evaluating the product and the customer response and interest and sales … [and] we expect to continue in additional markets sometime in 2012,” Todd Smith, director of media relations for Atlanta-based Cox, told Security Systems News.

The company is not yet announcing what those markets will be for the Cox Home Security product, which is professionally monitored by a third-party monitoring station and professionally installed, he said.

In the meantime, Cox has become an active member of the security industry in Arizona, according to Maria Malice, board president of the Arizona Alarm Association (AzAA), which is based here.

She said Cox joined the association last summer and “they’ve come to several training sessions and they’re actually out there trying to learn the industry, not just run around and steal customers. … So they’re trying to do it the right way, they’re participating … I think that will benefit them and the other companies as well.”

Smith said, “We want to be part of the Arizona alarm company community. We hope the relationship will be mutually beneficial, and are already working together on regulatory issues.”

This is Cox’s first venture into the security space, Smith said. However, it is among numerous telecoms jumping into the space in 2011. Among the others are Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Frontier and AT&T.

Some alarm companies have expressed fear that the telecoms, with their huge customer base, will take over the industry, crowding out the smaller professional security companies. But Malice doesn’t believe that will happen.

“I don’t think they’re going to take over,” she told SSN. “They’ll grab some market share but they’ll also force the others [smaller dealers] to be better at what they’re already good at.”

She said another positive aspect of telecoms entering the market is more advertising for security products.

“I think what happens is when a company like Cox comes into the market, it raises awareness of security because of the size they are and because of the number of customers they outreach to,” she said. “It helps bring security more to the forefront of people’s minds, so from that aspect I think it’s a help to the industry.”

Also, Malice said, such companies sometimes provide business for professional security companies by subcontracting with them for installation and monitoring.

For example, Cox says its product has 24/7 monitoring “provided by highly trained specialists in a UL-listed monitoring center.” Smith declined to say what company is doing the monitoring.

He said that Cox employees currently are doing the installs, but added, “We are open to discussions with local alarm companies that may want to partner with us.”

Cox packages range from a $29.99 per month starter package with a $99 installation fee and cellular backup included at no extra cost, to a $39.99 per month premier package, with $449 for installation that includes the bundling of several services, according to the company’s website. Its product is available to Cox customers and anyone else with a broadband connection, Smith said.

In addition to security, services include lighting and thermostat control.

“We’re certainly looking at ways to add additional things in the future,” Smith said. “The intention is to have the next-generation home security/home automation types of service for customers.”

Smith said Cox chose Tucson for the launch for a variety of reasons that he declined to detail. He said the company is always looking for new ways to expand its services.

“Right now, we sell video, Internet and phone service, so this is just one more way we can provide one of life’s most important connections for our customers,” Smith told SSN.

Some industry observers contend customers won’t trust their entertainment providers with their security needs.

But Smith said Cox has “a long history with our customers of being a trusted communications provider” that offers more than just video. “Internet and phone, I think people definitely look to those as their lifeline in many cases and, in fact, they support the security systems of our competitors,” he said. “And any security system in some ways is only as good as the network that it’s riding over, and we have a best-in-class network.”