Telcos break into security with full-featured offering

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

AUSTIN, Texas, ROCK HILL, S.C., and SIKESTON, Mo.--A new security and interactive services offering is due to hit the streets through a three-way partnership between Texas-based security and home automation solution provider uControl, South Carolina-based telco-cum-security company and central station Comporium, and Missouri-based telco NewWave Communications. The players involved say the offering will take what used to be considered "over-the-top add-ons" and make them a "regular part of the feature set," setting their dealers apart, increasing value and setting the new standard for what a solution can--and should--do.

NewWave and Comporium have announced a partnership in which NewWave's usual telco trifecta of Internet, television and telephone would be augmented with Comporium's security offerings. Comporium previously announced a partnership with uControl that brought uControl's Security, Monitoring and Automation (SMA) Platform with touchscreen to Comporium's dealers, and now by extension to NewWave.

"UControl is a platform, we develop the software and then we have the touchscreen, the hardware, as well. Think of us as the panel and the platform," said uControl VP of marketing Jason Domangue. "This is the 'fourth screen' opportunity. It's not just about delivering a home security service, which is obviously the focus. It gives the cable company another branding point, another point of content distribution and a much more personal one than a TV, because it's managing schedules, it's widgets, it's Facebook, it's digital photos--I've got all my family photos on it--there's another level of intimacy that I think attracts service providers to this."

"In 2006, we created a dealer program targeted primarily at telephone and cable companies," said Comporium general manager Dan Lehman. "We've got 43 companies onboard--it's gone very well for us--and we've been looking for other products to bring to that base, and that's when we came across uControl. What their platform brings to us is broadband connectivity. With the uControl device, the cable companies that are very broadband-focused companies, this just seems to be a natural fit for those guys ... Comporium also operates a UL-listed central station and the alarm monitoring and the hosting for the other applications for this solution will take place with us."

"NewWave is a cable television and broadband provider operating in several states. We see this as a great play on our broadband service. We're obviously already in the home and we look at this as a way to change our position in the marketplace," said NewWave SVP operations Larry Eby. "This gives a level of product that our industry doesn't typically have. It gives us another reason to get in other homes."

The solution pairs its open, technology-agnostic software infrastructure with what Comporium claims is the industry's only all-in-one SMA TouchScreen, combining an alarm system, communications gateway and home automation platform into one device. The touchscreen panel is manufactured by SMC Networks.

Domangue said the bundled, turnkey service would be available Q2 2010 and would begin making money for dealers. "Part of the value Comporium brings to the table is walking a new entrant to home security through all the steps of getting into the business." Domangue said. "This device also becomes a gateway for the service provider to offer all kinds of other stuff like home automation, widgets... everything's open, just like iPhone apps. There'll be tons of people out there who will be able to monetize this through creating apps."

In an April, 2009 interview with Security Systems News, Parks Associates CEO Tricia Parks suggested traditional security companies needed to begin offering more value to compete with telcos who were undoubtedly ready to move into the security space. "Anybody who is already getting into the house has the potential to do security as one more thing when they get there," Parks said in April. "They're looking around, if not for this year, then for years ahead, saying 'Where's the next incremental revenue come from?' And in that context they're all looking at security."