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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.


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

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!

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

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

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.

Advice from PSA-TEC 2011: Embrace change


WESTMINSTER, Colo.—What’s the biggest challenge for independent integrators today? According to Bill Bozeman, “it’s not the need to learn the latest and greatest technology,” and it’s not learning how to sell better or more efficiently. Rather, it’s understanding how to run and adapt their business models so they can run profitable businesses.