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“The Trip to Bountiful”: Comcast now "at home" in Utah

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Comcast is now selling home security in Utah, right in the backyard of the major summer-model security companies.

When it comes to telecoms and cable companies getting into home security, I’ve written before about how Comcast has been in the forefront of that trend. It launched its Xfinity Home Security product in 2010.

It also recently renamed the product as just Xfinity Home to reflect the fact that the service includes many home automation features in addition to home security.  And Comcast has launched the product in numerous major markets around the country and continues to introduce Xfinity Home in even more places. For example, it had a Seattle launch in February and this month Comcast announced it’s now offering the service in Utah, home to residential security giants like Vivint and Pinnacle Security.

I’ll be talking to them about their take on this new player both in their home state and nationwide. Keep your eye on this site for more!

Comcast’s Xfinity gets new name and features

The telecom also adds Seattle to the markets in which it offers its home security/home automation service
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02/29/2012

PHILADELPHIA—Comcast has renamed its home security/home automation service, is about to add a new energy-management feature and has expanded the service to yet another market: Seattle.

Talk at Barnes Buchanan: Cable companies' motivation for entering security

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I am just back this week from our TechSec new technology conference.

Unable to make it? There’s lots of coverage of on the site about the various the educational sessions--Mobile Apps; Ensuring your cloud provider is secure; the keynote; Video analytics; and, Emerging technology. 

TechSec took place in Delray Beach, Fla. on Feb. 7 & 8, after which I headed up Route 1A to The Breakers in Palm Beach for the Barnes Buchanan Security Alarm conference which took place Feb. 9 and 10.

You may wonder how a hardy New Englander such as myself can stand so much warm weather. It’s not easy, but I’ve toughed out these back-to-back conferences for a few years running.

It’s at Barnes Buchanan that I get an overview of the capital and debt markets, hear from lenders, and attend panel discussions (often remarkably candid) featuring leaders of some of the industry’s  major alarm companies.

The focus of the conference tends to be more residential and small business, but as more and more integrators get into the RMR business, there’s more information about these companies at  Barnes Buchanan. According to Barnes, overall monitoring and service revenue was up 5 percent in 2011 to $18 billion from $17.2 billion in 2010 and $16.3 billion in 2009. There’s been a notable increase in the number of integrators who have an RMR component (not just maintenance contracts) in the past three years.  That sounds like good news to me.

That last tidbit is from Michael Barnes’ annual Industry and Market Overview--which features a feast of numbers on monitoring revenue, M&A activity sliced and diced and served up in a lively presentation.

Mike’s two-hour overview always includes a lot of back and forth with the audience and this year. This year,  there was a lot of talk about new entrants.

Many, many questions started out this way: “If Comcast acquires ADT ...” Barnes himself said he expects cable companies to do some acquiring soon and “ADT’s likely the first one to get picked off.”

The cable company that picks off ADT would instantly get 28 percent of the resi market share. Tied for No. 2, with 2 percent apiece are Monitronics, Vivint, Pro1 and Stanley.

But Barnes asked an interesting question: Will big cable companies really be motivated by the economics of the security industry? The security industry, he said, is just not that big in comparison to the giant telco and cable industry.

He talked about visiting Comcast--a major enterprise—and noted that a cable company that decides to go into security has a lot of barriers to overcome.

But, say for argument’s sake, a cable company does a truly bang-up job and starts creating a large number of accounts. Say that cable company grows like Vivint, Barnes posited.

Vivint has gone from no accounts in 2006 to 600,000 accounts today. Most would agree it’s had remarkable growth and success in a short length of time in this industry. But, Barnes said, however impressive that is, will 600,000 accounts in five years really wow the board of a cable company that has 24 million subscribers?

One reason the Bell companies that got involved in security in the last decade left, he said, is “they can’t make [the security piece] big enough.”

We're putting final touches on the March printed issue of SSN today, but I'll have more on the Barnes Buchanan conference later this week and next.

 

 

iControl/Time Warner Cable sell home security/home automation together

iControl: Telecoms good partners because they are ‘very, very focused’ on the space
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01/10/2012

PALO ALTO, Calif.—Software provider iControl Networks this week announced a new partnership with Time Warner Cable, in which Time Warner’s IntelligentHome security and home automation solution is being powered by iControl software.

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
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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

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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.

 

AT&T to enter Atlanta security market

The telecom is not yet revealing details of its products and services, but it will reportedly open its own monitoring station
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12/07/2011

KENNESAW, Ga.—The news that AT&T is creating a new Atlanta-based division to offer customers home security and home automation—and that it reportedly will open its own monitoring station—carries some positive implications for local alarm companies, said John Loud, owner of Loud Security Systems, which is based here.

In your face, telecoms!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I’ve been writing a lot recently about telecoms—Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Frontier Communications and AT&T—entering the security space.

The industry experts I’ve talked to about their new competitors have all been polite, saying that basically, the telecoms don’t have the security expertise or the reputation for good service that security companies have earned with their customers.

So I had to smile at the more in-your-face way that a consumer expressed that same idea in a recent Los Angeles Times article. Here’s what it said:

“Consumers reacted with derision when the Consumer Reports website the Consumerist published a piece on Comcast's entry into the business.

"Yes Mr. Smith, we got a report that your burglar alarm is going off, we are dispatching a security officer to your home and you can expect him on Monday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.," one commenter wrote.”

The article also points to the reasons why those big companies are so interested in security/home automation.

It’s not just that there’s so much money to be made in the space, the article said, but because “the cable industry is facing myriad challenges to its core businesses. The weak economy has led many consumers to cancel their pay-television service, while others are switching to competing video-delivery options, such as satellite operators, telephone companies and the online services Netflix Inc. and Hulu.”

iControl gets $50m

Funds will speed up availability of platform, energy management apps
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06/23/2011

PALO ALTO, Calif.—IControl co-CEOs Jim Johnson and Paul Dawes said they were originally looking for a $30 million investment, but there was so much interest that they got $50 million. They even turned away some investors whose interests didn’t align with iControl’s strategy, they said.

Comcast sells home security/home automation with iControl

IControl, which also partners with ADT, announces first broadband provider partnership
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06/16/2011

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.

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