Grandly stepping into security

As others exit, Texas telecom offers alarm systems
Tuesday, February 1, 2005

SAN MARCOS, Texas - For some telecommunications companies, such as Time Warner Cable, moving into the security field has worked. For others - Adelphia Communications and Westar Energy - it has been a rough road.

Regardless of the past histories of other firms, Grande Communications, a telecommunications company based here, sees security going hand in hand with its current service offerings of high-speed Internet, local and long distance telephone and digital cable.

And in the fourth quarter of 2004, the company launched its security division - offering a wireless security system to subscribers throughout Texas.

“Adding security is a natural extension of our skills,” said William Morrow, chief executive officer and chairman of Grande Communications. “We install technology in homes already. With that backdrop, we think we have an advantage over traditional security companies.”

Grande is offering a wireless security system provided by SecTec Global, a company with offices in New York and San Antonio that focuses on providing security products and services to cable companies entering the security market (see related story on page xx). According to Morrow and Karen Sussman, vice president of marketing at SecTec, the fact that the system, which is customizable for small or large residences as well as small businesses, is wireless is advantageous.“There are a lot of features because it is wireless,” Sussman said. “It is easy to install and highly reliable.”

To date, the company has signed approximately 1,000 security subscribers up - priced starting at $175 for installation and roughly $26 per month for monitoring. But Morrow said that number is growing rapidly.

“Right now, we are mainly focused on adding this additional product to our existing 120,000 customers,” he said. “We are planning on 25 to 35 percent of that group to incorporate the product.”

The existing customer base is also an ideal place for the company to begin its marketing efforts.

“The vast majority of our customers are cable subscribers and that gives us a natural tool,” Morrow said. “We can create our own commercials that talk about the product and run them on our cable networks.”

Although the company operates call centers for its other services, when it came to security Morrow found partnering with an experienced UL-listed central station was more beneficial. He declined to release the name of the central station the company is partnering with.

Morrow envisions security growing into a large part of the company’s business - eventually moving into the carbon monoxide detection and fire prevention market in the coming years.

Morrow said Grande’s competitors include major brands, such as ADT Security Services, but there is one major difference between the two.

“We are focused on dominating in Texas,” he said. “We believe our focus on out-localizing national companies will allow us to continue to be successful.”