Telecom partners with professional security companies in second go-round

After going it alone in beta, Frontier decides partnering with big national security companies is the way to go
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

STAMFORD, Conn.—Frontier Communications about four years ago tried a go-it-alone experiment offering home security in a small town in Pennsylvania. The telecom, based here, did everything from marketing the product to monitoring it through a third-party monitoring center.

Now Frontier is taking a different approach in a second foray into the security market: It’s partnering with two security giants, ADT and Protection 1, to offer security products in two separate six-month trial programs, one in upstate New York and one in Pennsylvania.

Frontier learned from its earlier experiment that there’s a strong market for home security systems, but that “if we wanted to scale [an offering] nationally, we’d want to do it differently, probably through partnerships,” Melinda White, Frontier VP revenue development/product marketing, told Security Systems News.

In the new partnerships with ADT and Protection 1, White said, “that’s what we’ve done.”

The program with Protection 1 began Oct. 17 and is taking place in the Pennsylvania communities of Quarrysville and Bangor—the town where Frontier’s earlier trial took place. The one with ADT is in metropolitan Rochester, N.Y., and kicked off Nov. 7, according to Frontier.

Frontier is one of a spate of telecoms to recently enter the security space with home security/home automation offerings. Verizon, Time Warner Cable and AT&T are other entrants.

But Frontier’s partnership arrangement with national security companies stand out. The arrangements are “really a win-win” for Frontier and the security companies, White told SSN.

She said the programs utilize Frontier’s strengths, such as the strong relationships it has with its customers and its high-speed Internet network, as well as the security expertise of Protection 1 and ADT, whose suites of products and services Frontier will market.

Jamie Haenggi, Protection 1 chief marketing and customer experience officer, agreed the arrangement carries benefits both for Protection 1, which is based in Romeoville, Ill., and serves more than 1 million customers nationwide, and Frontier, which has about 3.5 million customers in 27 states.

“It’s a changing landscape in today’s marketplace and I think providers and certainly Protection 1 really see themselves as adapting to the competitive landscape,” Haenggi told SSN. “I think partnerships make sense with the right partner.”

She said Protection 1 and Frontier mesh well.

“The reason that we both liked the idea of a partnership together is that Frontier has established, in the telecommunication space with their customers, a solid reputation for customer service, and when they sat down and met with us that was one of the things that clearly stood out with them,” Haenggi said.

Bob Tucker, director of public relations for Boca Raton, Fla.-based ADT, referred questions about that partnership to Frontier.

White said the partnerships contrast with Frontier’s previous entry into the security space.

She said Frontier, believing that “home security was an opportunity for the future,” offered a home security product in Bangor, Pa. In that trial, White said, “we actually were responsible for it end-to-end. We marketed it, we sold it, we installed it, we billed it, and we monitored it through a third party [monitoring center].”

She said the conclusion reached after that trial was that “wow, the opportunity is something we should pay attention to,” but that a different approach was needed.

White said the communities where the new trials are taking place were chosen for a variety of reasons, including strong relationships Frontier has in those locations and significant market opportunity.

Haenggi told SSN that the Pennsylvania launch of Frontier Security Systems “is going very well.”

Frontier does the marketing to its customers and the general public, White said. “We are engaged in the market,” she said. “We’ve got full-blown messaging, retention, customer service, all the resources and functions you would want to have a partner bring to the table.”

Haenggi said Protection 1 is installing, servicing and monitoring the product, which she said is a Simon XT with interactive services via Alarm.com. Currently, the product being offered doesn’t include features such as thermostat and lighting control but that is planned, White and Haenggi said.

“Clearly the product has a platform for home automation, but we wanted to first focus for the initial launch on the security aspect of the product,” Haenggi said.

Packages range from $149 and up for installation and monthly fees begin at $29.99, she said. White said the systems are being marketed both to homes and businesses.

Customers will know Protection 1 and Frontier are partners in their security systems, Haenggi said. “On all the signs and decals, it’s ‘Frontier Security powered by Protection 1,’” she said.

She continued: “One of the reasons that Frontier was excited about the partnership with Protection 1 was … our ability to be very nimble and flexible, to really co-brand and co-exist. So there’s a lot of personalization we’re doing as part of the offering in terms of how we interact with their customers, the billing to their customers, our trucks in their market, things like that. … So even as a trial, it's a very integrated experience for the Frontier customers.”

In the ADT partnership, Frontier is offering a variety of ADT packages ranging from basic to premier. White said they are market-priced.

She said if the trials are successful, “I think the clear plan is to definitely expand it.” But whether the expansion would be nationwide or tailored to select markets has not been decided, White said.