Friday, December 1, 2006

SAN ANTONIO, Texas--Though recent reports have widely trumpeted AT&T's Oct. 26 entree into the "home security" market, AT&T itself is touting their new system as a "peace of mind" service. Said Brad Mays, AT&T's representative to trade media: "The service is not being sold as a traditional security service, but rather a peace-of-mind home monitoring application. There is no automated dialing of police departments--and no possibility of third party monitoring--through the service today."
It remains to be seen how security dealers around the country will greet this news, but when contacted by Security Systems News, John Evans, President of Able Security Systems in Milwaukee, Wis., said, "This service does not replace a traditional intrusion alarm system.
However, as a supplement to a traditional home security system, or for someone who really does not feel the need for a traditional home security system but wants the ability to 'look in,' this could be very useful."
AT&T Remote Monitoring allows US customers to monitor their systems remotely via computer or cell phone. The nationwide service is compatible with any broadband Internet service and is being offered to customers at $9.95 a month, with an initial start-up fee of $199 for equipment.
AT&T's system combines live and recorded video via Panasonic's pan-and-tilt BLC10 camera and wireless sensors manufactured by Motorola, providing customers with a way to maintain a virtual connection to their homes.
The system can remotely control lighting in the home and provide alerts on environmental conditions, including motion detection, temperature changes and household flooding.
The service is self-installed and, according to Mays, "The set-up process is quick and easy and requires little technical knowledge."
Installation is a matter of connecting a gateway to a router using a supplied Ethernet cable. Cameras are also connected to the router, with a maximum distance between the two being set at 200 feet. AT&T is obviously banking on the low cost of their new service, along with its ease of use, to attract customers:
After installing the provided software and registering a gateway on AT&T's web site, end users are, in effect, good to go. Upgrades to the system start at $6.95 a month, and it is also possible to purchase additional cameras and sensors.
Susan Johnson, senior vice president of business development for AT&T, maintained that with AT&T Remote Monitoring, customers will "no longer be tied to a specific device to access a specific service" and that it will allow customers to communicate and access information wherever they happen to be.
"It's an early yet powerful example of the potential of converged services," said Johnson in a provided release.
Though this service may seem like a godsend to those who'd like to monitor their homes remotely, there's at least one downside: The system won't work if the power fails.