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Lights out for 2G? 'Sunset' debate heats up

 - 
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Still looking for clarity about the “2G sunset” and whether you’ll be left holding the bag if you don’t upgrade your cellular alarm communicators to 3G (or even 4G) right now?   

You’re not alone. The buzz continued last month at ESX, with manufacturers jockeying to try to sway alarm dealers. Telguard, the company sounding the loudest warning about the sunset, went one step further by announcing a program that gives dealers up to $25 for every 2G cell communicator they replace with a Telguard 3G/4G product. The company does not sell 2G.

“We estimate the industry has 3 million 2G radios that will have to be replaced in the next five years,” said Shawn Welsh, vice president of marketing and business development for Telguard.

Unlike AMPS, the date for the 2G sunset will not be determined by the FCC; it will determined by cellular carriers based on capacity constraints and customer demand for 3G. Carriers have already begun reallocating frequency spectrum to accommodate 3G, Welsh said, cutting into the effectiveness of 2G equipment.

But not everyone believes the sky is falling when it comes to 2G, at least not in the next few years. Among those taking a different approach is Mike Boyle, general manager of Uplink. The company is continuing to offer 2G lines while rolling out 4G at the same time.

“People are still buying a lot of 2G products,” he said. “We think we may continue to sell 2G beyond the third quarter of this year. Everything we see in the network says it will be around.”

Uplink backs its business plan with the following assertions on its website:

—2G is a proven technology with falling price points as manufacturing costs decrease.
—No carrier has announced a sunset date for its 2G network.
—Uplink’s communicators operate with multiple carriers and will continue to provide nationwide coverage late into the decade or longer.

The company also offers a lifetime guarantee to replace its 2G products with 4G if the 2G units fail to operate due to a carrier technology change. Boyle said the approach covers all bases by recognizing the realities of the marketplace.

“Requests for 4G are minimal,” he said. “When a guy asks for 4G, we ship 4G. But our business is still 98 percent 2G.”

An industry source who spoke to Security Systems News on condition of anonymity said a sunset announcement from AT&T would be made “in the next few months,” which could knock a lot of people off the fence if they’ve been considering a move to 3G/4G. But longevity is key for alarm dealers, and if they can hang onto their 2G gear for another year or two (or four), many probably will.

It’s the nature of the beast.

Security providers early winners in home automation/home security space

But telecoms and cable companies also are ‘in it to win’ and shouldn’t be discounted, an industry analyst says
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05/29/2012

DALLAS—Security providers have a “first mover” advantage in home automation/home security right now, but the big telecoms and cable companies entering the space are serious competitors who may be game-changers in the future, according to a market research company analyst.

Lowe’s home automation/home security launch near

The giant retailer’s offering will help grow the mass appeal of such services, a new report says
 - 
05/22/2012

MOOREVILLE, N.C.—Lowe’s, the world’s second-largest home-improvement retailer, is expected to launch its new home automation/home security service soon.

AT&T ‘bullish’ on security

The company says it’s poised to not only compete in the home security/home automation market, but grow it too
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05/16/2012

DALLAS—AT&T isn’t just entering the security space with trials here and in Atlanta this summer of its home security/home automation service. The telecom also believes it will be able to transform that space through such innovations as letting customers try out its new Digital Life product in its more than 2,000 retail stores around the country, an AT&T executive told Security Systems News.

AT&T to do home security in Dallas, Atlanta

Professionally installed ‘Digital Life’ systems will be professionally monitored as well
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05/09/2012

DALLAS—AT&T has announced plans to bring its home security/home automation offering to Atlanta and Dallas this summer.

AT&T enters security market, but can it become a billion-dollar business?

One way to build scale would be to acquire the largest player
 - 
05/09/2012

DALLAS—When AT&T announced on Monday that it will begin trials this summer of Digital Life, its home security/home automation service, here and in Atlanta, mainstream newspapers reported that the company was looking to potentially grow the service into a $1 billion business.

AT&T bringing home security in Dallas and Atlanta this summer

 - 
Monday, May 7, 2012

It’s official now …. AT&T plans to bring its home security/home automation offering to Atlanta this summer … and also to Dallas, the Dallas-based telecom announced today. It’s the start of a nationwide launch, the company said.

AT&T’s Digital Life services will be professionally monitored from AT&T owned and operated 24/7 monitoring stations, the company said in a May 7 news release.

The company announced this morning that it plans to begin trials of Digital Life in Atlanta and Dallas this summer. Connected devices offered will include cameras, window, door, smoke and carbon monoxide sensors, thermostats and appliance power controls, the company said.

I learned late last year that AT&T planned to come to Atlanta, where its new Digital Life Services division will be based. Although the company declined to confirm the move at that time, I talked to John Loud, president of the Georgia Electronic Life Safety and Security Association and owner of Kennesaw, Ga.-based Loud Security Systems, who said he had learned about the plan from an AT&T representative.

According to a report in The Dallas Morning News, an AT&T spokesman said that its Digital Life offering will benefit from “AT&T’s involvement with a smart home startup company called Xanboo,” which it acquired in December 2010.

Just a year ago, Security Systems News reported that AT&T was terminating its Xanboo dealer agreement. AT&T wouldn’t comment on what the company was going to do with the Xanboo technology, but there was speculation then that AT&T was going to get directly involved in the security business.

I'll continue to report on this story. Here’s more from AT&T’s release:
 

AT&T Plans Nationwide Launch of Wireless-centric Home Security and Automation Services

Checking on the welfare of loved ones, protecting your home from intruders, fire or water damage,  unlocking a door for the repairman or changing the temperature setting on the thermostat – and doing it from wherever you happen to be, here or abroad  – can be as easy as if you were right at home.

AT&T today announced plans for a new portfolio of all-digital, IP-based home security monitoring and automation services.  Called AT&T Digital LifeTM, , the services will give users unparalleled control and security of their homes using any web-enabled device, PCs, tablets and smartphones, regardless of wireless carrier.

AT&T plans to begin trials in Atlanta and Dallas this summer.

Managed by a newly created Digital Life group, the remote monitoring and automation portfolio will feature web-based access to automation, energy and water controls, as well as professionally monitored security services.

“The AT&T Digital Life service has the potential to take home monitoring and home security solutions to another level,” said Larry Hettick, Research Director, Consumer Services, for Current Analysis. “The service promises to be as robust as anything in the marketplace today backed by the trusted AT&T brand. I am particularly impressed with its IP-based wireless platform, plans for a nationwide offering, and a wide range of devices that can be monitored and viewed from any carrier’s wireless or wireline Internet connection. These consumer-friendly capabilities will help grow this industry.”

AT&T Digital Life will feature a robust lineup of connected devices like:

    Cameras
    Window/door sensors
    Smoke, carbon monoxide, motion and glass break sensors
    Door locks
    Thermostats
    Moisture detection
    Appliance power controls

The devices will be wirelessly enabled to connect to the IP-based AT&T Digital Life platform inside the home.

"AT&T Digital Life will change the way people live, work and play -- and meets a clear need in the market,” said Kevin Petersen, senior vice president, Digital Life, AT&T Mobility.  “The service is smart, simple and customer centric– freeing homeowners to do the things they want to do without compromising on the things they need to do to care for family and home.”

Unique Digital Life Trial Features

AT&T Digital Life will include numerous unique features and benefits:

    Professional installation of the platform, sensors and other devices
    Integrated, wirelessly enabled platform that combines home security and automation capabilities
    AT&T owned and operated 24/7 security monitoring centers
    A state-of-the-art user interface application, which allows customers to customize a solution based on individual needs, and the ability to manage and control their services from the U.S. or while traveling abroad
    The option to experience and purchase the service in AT&T’s distribution channels, including AT&T company-owned retail stores. The service will also be made available for purchase on att.com when available commercially.
    The ability to add more features and services after the initial installation, hassle free

The Digital Life platform includes built-in AT&T mobile internet service and will also be capable of Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and wired broadband connections. Trial subscribers can use their own wired broadband solution with the Digital Life system and can access the service and remotely control the products from smartphones, tablets and PCs, regardless of carrier.

“We’re planning a unique suite of services, from start to finish, that will give homeowners control of their property and their possessions through an easy to navigate user interface,” Petersen said.  “Our focus is on providing our customers with a comprehensive home security and automation solution that offers the best possible customer experience, and uses the most advanced mobile internet technology on the market to make their lives easier and keep their families and property safer.”

In February, AT&T announced plans to launch an SDK for international providers to equip global service providers with capabilities to offer customizable, web-based home automation, energy and security services to their subscribers.

 

Pilot shows smartphone potential

HID: Other applications in the works
 - 
01/30/2012

IRVINE, Calif.—With the announcement today of the completion of its smartphones-as-keys pilot project at Arizona State University, HID officials hope more integrators will begin to investigate how NFC-enabled smartphones might fit into their access control offerings in the future.

Comcast ahead of curve in security space

Telecom led others in launching a home security/home automation option and will add Tucson to its markets this year
 - 
01/04/2012

PHILADELPHIA—Many telecoms decided that 2011 was the year to launch a home security/home automation offering—Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Frontier Communications, AT&T and Cox Communications among them.
But Comcast, based here, was ahead of the curve, launching Xfinity Home Security in Houston in June 2010. The company, with millions of customers nationwide, has so far made the product available in other major markets around the country, and plans to launch it in Tucson, Ariz. sometime this year.

The Cable Guy goes pro as telecoms enter security space

 - 
Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Watch out security industry! Here comes the new version of the Cable Guy—one that’s more likely to wear a suit and have a computer science background than be a rube who’s always late.

As the telecoms enter the security space at a fast and furious pace—I’ve recently written about the new home security/home automation offerings of Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Frontier Communications, AT&T, Cox Communications, and Comcast—the security industry has expressed confidence that small, professional security companies will outperform those giant companies when it comes to service.

That’s because the archetypal Cable Guy in everyone’s mind is someone who’s always late and barely seems to know what he’s doing. But as the telecoms offer new products such as professionally installed and monitored home security systems, they’re also creating new teams of professional Cable Guys to install and service those products, according to a recent The New York Times article.

Here’s more from the article, entitled “Today’s Cable Guy, Upgraded and Better-Dressed:”
 

“Long depicted as slovenly cranks who dodged growling dogs and tracked mud on the living room carpet, cable guys (and gals) these days often have backgrounds in engineering and computer science. That kind of training is now required — along with a new dress code for some, calling for button-down dress shirts and slacks — as cable companies and their telephone rivals try to lure customers and increase revenue with a suite of [new] products. ... That means added pressure for installers and new requirements for a job that traditionally appealed to high-school graduates looking for reliable blue-collar work. …

… Robert Kolb, a 33-year-old installation and service supervisor for Comcast’s Xfinity television, phone and Internet service, has a one-year certification in network engineering. He wore pressed slacks and a sporty fleece jacket on an Internet upgrade job in the Philadelphia suburbs recently, where he worked on a company-issued MacBook laptop and had a waterproof hand-held computer that could withstand a five-foot drop.

… To make sure he stays up to date, Comcast requires him and other installers to take classes at an in-house training facility known as Comcast University.

OK, the advent of the upgraded Cable Guy doesn’t mean that small professional security companies won’t still have a service edge with customers who continue to view them as their trusted security provider.

But I do think it shows that no security company should be complacent about the telecoms entering the market this time around—and that having professional, well-trained staff that provides excellent customer service is a key to success, no matter what size your company is.

 

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