New security/telco partnership up North

After five years of working together ‘secretly’ IControl & Rogers Communications announce partnership
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

RED WOOD CITY, Calif. and TORONTO—The home security penetration rate hovers around 18 percent in Canada, but players in a new partnership say they’re going to change that. Home automation and control technology provider iControl and Rogers Communications, Canada's largest communications provider, on Aug. 30 announced a new converged home security, automation and control offering, which they say will raise that rate.  

"When you start giving people the ability to view cameras remotely, to arm and disarm remotely, you start appealing to a broader segment," iControl co-CEO Jim Johnson told Security Systems News. The U.S. penetration rate is generally thought to be about 21 percent, he said. "Our fundamental premise is that interactive home security and broadband home management is going to be table stakes going forward. This is a value that the other 79 percent of the market has been waiting for."

Rogers VP and GM Smart Home Monitoring Ian Pattinson agrees.

"By reinventing the home security category and integrating in convenient home automation features this will both grow the home security category—which has been stuck at 18 percent (in Canada)—and also grow the home automation category which is in its infancy," Pattinson said. "This is not about a takeover, it’s about growing market penetration. All boats will float on this."

IControl's OpenHome software platform will power Rogers' Smart Home Monitoring solution, at the heart of which is a touchscreen that consumers use to arm/disarm and manage and otherwise interact with their systems and homes, according to iControl. Available in wall-mount or table-top, the touchscreen provides access to home security functions, home automation apps for lighting, cameras and thermostats as well as multimedia apps for photos, traffic, weather and sports. When an alarm occurs, the touchscreen instantly connects with the Rogers’ central monitoring station simultaneously over both Rogers' broadband cable and wireless networks. The touchscreen constantly communicates with smart sensors throughout the home, checking their status, signal strength, battery level and room temperature.

How will the solution come to market and how will it be monitored? According to Pattinson, the roll out of the Smart Home Monitoring solution will be multi-phased. Following an in-house beta test in 2010 during which more than 700 Rogers employees ran the system in their homes, the Canadian communications company is ready to tap its existing, multi-million-strong customer base (Rogers boasts 2.3 million customers in basic cable alone) in the company's wireless, cable, telephone and Internet footprint.

"The actual alarm response for a home is managed by Northern 911, a partner that we've had for 15 years who are also our partner for providing 911 service for our cable and telephony customers and also for all of northern Ontario," Pattinson said. "They're both a PSAP and a UL-listed central station, but the Rogers carrier NOC (Network Operations Center) that manages our global network also monitors all of their infrastructure so there's a second layer of capability."

Rogers, as well as being a technology partner with iControl, is also a strategic investor. The companies say they had been working on the partnered solution secretly for the last five years.