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Comcast sold on retail security sales

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I’ve been writing about a new trend in the industry: selling home security in a retail environment. And now communications giant Comcast is one of the latest to embrace retail, opening a new store in Albuquerque, N.M. designed to let customers experience its Xfinity Home automation/home security product firsthand.

Philadelphia-based Comcast on April 20 held a grand opening of its new Xfinity Customer Center, the company said. It invited elected officials and community leaders to tour the facility, and Comcast gave a $2,500 donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Central New Mexico.

Comcast said the 2,500 square-foot center, which is open seven days a week, “is designed entirely around the needs of customers and provides consumers with an opportunity to explore, learn about, and interact directly with the latest Xfinity products and services.”

Here’s more on what Comcast had to say about the center:
 

Featuring fully interactive touchscreen displays; the environment enables customers to learn about products and indulge in the complete Xfinity Experience. The center also exhibits a 3D viewing experience, and comfortable seating areas. Customers can try out Comcast's Xfinity Home security system, the Xfinity TV app and popular apps on an iPad. Customers also can experience Xfinity TV, test drive Xfinity Internet's speeds and learn more about Comcast Business Class products and services at Kiosks throughout the center.

In addition, customers will receive personalized service from trained and knowledgeable Sales Consultants and more time-saving offerings, including a self-service kiosk for quick bill pay and a new queuing system that allows customers to explore and be entertained instead of waiting in line for service.

Comcast was a leader in the trend of among telecoms and cablecos entering the security market, launching its Xfinity Home Security product in June 2010. The company renamed the service last year as just Xfinity Home to reflect the fact that it includes many home automation features in addition to home security. The product has been rolled out in major markets across the nation.

Comcast is now part of a retail trend being embraced by both large and small companies selling security.

Telecom giant AT&T has told me that selling Digital Life, its home security/home automation product, in its retail stores is a key part of its sales strategy. Also, retail giant Lowe’s recently announced it is selling its Iris product not only its own stores but in Verizon Wireless stores.

And I just wrote recently about a small, traditional security company, Madison, Miss.-based The Alarm Company, finding its new retail location a roaring business success.

I’ll be talking to Comcast to learn more about its new store.

 

Proprietary ‘smart home’ systems losing ground to open standards

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03/06/2013

Annual shipments of proprietary wireless technologies for home automation are expected to double by 2017, but proportionately their deployment in “smart homes” will be cut in half as service providers including ADT and AT&T drive a move toward open standards, according to a new report by IMS Research.

AT&T gets into mobile PERS; Puro resigns at CRN Wireless

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mobile PERS is fast becoming the land of the giants.

AT&T is the latest to get into the game, announcing on Feb. 21 that it will provide the wireless network and location services for Libris, a mobile health management system from Seattle-based Numera Inc. The news follows ADT’s announcement in January that it’s getting into mobile PERS by partnering with Toronto-based health tech provider Ideal Life.

The target market for both ventures is similar: active senior citizens looking for an extra measure of safety, and those with chronic conditions who want health monitoring inside and outside the home. Libris delivers by integrating biometric readings, two-way mobile voice, automated fall detection and location tracking.

“Incorporating continuous monitoring of an individual’s activity, location and important health measurements, [Libris] breaks new ground in bringing together personal safety and telehealth in a mobile device,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president of emerging devices for AT&T, in a prepared statement.  

While the competition for remote patient monitoring is getting more intense, there’s probably a lot of room left in the sandbox for players of all sizes. The telecare and telehealth market is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2016 and grow to $6 billion by 2020, according to Numera.

Puro resigns at CRN Wireless: In other PERS-related news, e3 Investment Partners announced this week that Nicholas Puro has resigned as CEO of CRN Wireless. He will focus on other opportunities in network services, monitoring and security, according to an e3IP news release.

“I am particularly interested in network services and wireless monitoring in the medical and pharmaceutical field,” said Puro, who is listed on LinkedIn as managing director of e3IP. “There are vast opportunities for new products and services ranging from fully mobile personal emergency response systems to wireless monitoring of pharmaceuticals through the cold chain.”

Earlier this month, CRN Wireless launched two 4G cellular alarm communicators through its AlarmPath division.

AT&T to launch Digital Life in eight markets in March

AT&T retail stores are key to sales strategy; door knocking is possibility
 - 
01/09/2013

DALLAS—After entering the security space last summer with trials here and in Atlanta of its home security/home automation service called Digital Life, AT&T announced this week it will launch its offering in eight markets in March and have it available nationwide by the end of 2013.

New year, new urgency on AT&T's 2G sunset

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

One of the most newsworthy items for the alarm industry in 2012 was AT&T’s announcement that it will shut down 2G service by Jan. 1, 2017. Everyone knew the day was coming, but there had been a lot of speculation in the field about exactly when cellular equipment would need to be upgraded to stay ahead of the sunset.

With the uncertainty gone, the industry now faces the reality of swapping millions of devices that use AT&T’s GSM/GPRS network. Choices must be made that involve assessing the longevity, coverage and cost of competing technologies. The larger the company, the larger the stakes.

SSN covered developments on the 2G sunset throughout 2012, presenting opinions from industry experts and a few rebuttals about the best path for dealers to take. For those still unsure about which way to go, a summation of options is provided by Syed Zaeem Hosain, chief technical officer at Aeris Communications, in the latest issue of CSAA Dispatch. Here’s what he had to say:

Change service to T-Mobile. It may be possible to move service from AT&T to T-Mobile by swapping the SIM [card] inside devices. This requires a truck roll. Furthermore, T-Mobile will also remove 2G eventually. Thus, this option only delays the inevitable by about two years; however, it allows additional time for implementing other options. It could require two truck rolls: one to replace the SIM soon, and another to replace the 2G GSM device later.
 

Replace with 3G HSPA. Alarm device suppliers are making new 3G HSPA devices. However, the HSPA coverage is much smaller than GPRS and, in time, HSPA spectrum also will need to be swapped for LTE. Thus, there is likely to be an “HSPA sunset” starting in about seven to eight years. This sunset would be worse, since the number of deployed alarm units will be much higher.

Replace with 2G CDMA. Alarm device suppliers have not yet supported this option, though it is likely the best. CDMA carriers have committed to 10-plus years of service longevity, and the 1xRTT coverage is better than GSM. Given the lower cost of 1xRTT radios and the large number of deployed 1xRTT applications in other industries (notably automotive and trucking) supporting the technology, using 1xRTT for alarm units makes sense.

Replace with 4G LTE. Deploying LTE devices is not viable for the alarm industry today. Radio costs are very high, and coverage is simply not sufficient for national deployments. Both will improve in time, but not at a pace that makes it a viable replacement option today. Carriers have not yet worked out LTE roaming agreements—these also will take time. Most importantly, the spectrum fragmentation for LTE means that current-generation LTE radios are single band (dedicated for use on a single carrier when in LTE mode). This is too restrictive, since these units can never be moved from one carrier to another.

Whichever route is chosen, it should be noted that the four-year window is a best-case scenario. Frequency harvesting is expected to dilute AT&T’s 2G coverage well before the sunset, with constraints already being reported in some areas. While the best choice for dealers seems to vary depending on who—or which manufacturer—you talk to, one thing is clear: Procrastination is no longer an option.

Doubling residential penetration: Pie in the sky or an eventuality?

Readers deliver wide range of opinions in SSN News Poll
 - 
12/12/2012

YARMOUTH, Maine—Forty percent residential penetration.

ADT CEO Naren Gursahaney said recently that it’s not a “moonshot,” and Honeywell Security Products President Scott Harkins said his company shared the expectation that it could happen. But given that the rate has hovered at 20 percent for years, is it realistic to believe it can be doubled? Or is that just optimism from the corner office?

2G sun starting to set in Arizona

 - 
Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Looking for signs of the 2G sunset? Don’t blink.

That was the message today from Telguard’s Shawn Welsh, who notified CSAA members via the group’s ACCENT email service that AT&T has begun to pull the shade on Arizona’s Pinal and Gila counties.

“For those of you with cellular customers in Arizona, AT&T has announced that there will be no roaming network available to 2G GSM/GPRS-only cellular devices using [the company’s] 410 SIMs—they are often yellow in color—in Pinal and Gila counties starting on Nov. 1, 2012,” Welsh wrote.

If you struggle to keep pace with the calendar—and I am among you—that means next Thursday.

Welsh said he and his counterparts at other cellular equipment companies made a promise at the CSAA’s annual meeting, held Oct. 12-17 in Hawaii, to keep the industry informed about pockets of lost 2G coverage “as soon as we were notified by our carrier partners.”

“Having just returned this week, this one is beating the official CSAA process,” he wrote.

Welsh advised anyone with customers in the two counties to contact their cellular manufacturer for official confirmation from AT&T and a coverage map to determine if their units are affected.

“Only your cellular device manufacturer (or waiting until next Thursday—not recommended) can advise you of your potential loss of service,” he said.

Welsh said Telguard customers should not notice a change “as we do not use 410 SIMs in our [legacy] 2G or 3G devices.” For those affected by the AT&T announcement, “you’ll need to roll trucks next week and replace the units with a device operating on a 3G/4G network,” he said.
 

Readers see reality of 'sunset' after AT&T sets 2G deadline

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10/16/2012

YARMOUTH, Maine—AT&T’s 2G “sunset” announcement in August didn’t surprise many people in the alarm industry: Only 9 percent had doubted it was imminent, according to a recent SSN News Poll. But despite that perspective, a majority of respondents said they had not yet begun upgrade their cellular equipment to 3G or 4G.

ESA backs Michigan Alarm Association

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10/04/2012

IRVING, Texas—The Electronic Security Association has thrown strong support behind the Burglar and Fire Alarm Association of Michigan by opposing legislation that would potentially facilitate the entry of telecommunications companies into the state’s electronic security

ADT set to 'go it alone'

CEO of The ADT Corp. squelches rumors new entity will be takeover target
 - 
09/18/2012

BOCA RATON, Fla.—Tyco International shareholders voted Monday to approve splitting Tyco into three separate companies—one of them ADT, another a commercial fire and security business, and the third a flow control unit. ADT officials say they’re eager to see ADT become a stand-alone company, providing security and interactive services to residences and small businesses and focused on innovation and growth.

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