How to deal with the telcos?

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01/13/2009
While there has been some gnashing of teeth over AT&T's return to the security marketplace, with residential installers, particularly, worried about competition from cable and phone companies who can seemingly just add security on to the bill their customers are already receiving, at least one industry publication is chiding these same telcos for trying to do too much. This article makes a lot of sense to me, though I'm less than familiar with the industry dynamics at work in providing Internet and phone service. The general gist is that these providers should worry more about increasing the quality of their networks and worry less about being all things to everyone. I wholeheartedly agree with that point when it comes to AT&T. Here in Maine, I get a dropped call from my AT&T cell at least every other call, and their coverage sucks compared to Verizon when traveling. Not to mention - the "world" plan that's supposed to get me $.99 calls in Europe charges me $1.99 for Prague. What, Prague's not part of Europe? It's a little backwater or something? Ridiculous. And it's always good news when I switch carriers as part of that plan. AT&T at my house in Maine? 3 bars. Some weird provider called Lime in St. Maarten? Five bars. How is it possible that I get better coverage in St. Maarten than in Maine? Anyway, to my point, here's what telephony.com says: "The service providers, for a large part, think they can do it on their own and may even see [potential partners] as competitors, which is ridiculous," Felten said. For example, a service provider could partner with a security company to offer home and business security services over their FTTH pipe. "Or they can crash and burn trying to offer their own security service, after which they would turn to the professionals, who then say, ‘But you were competing with me before,’" Felten said. Hmm. Does that sound familiar to anyone? Maybe this COPS/Xanboo/AT&T collaboration is proof that AT&T is trying a different tack. Anyway, if you're a regional alarm company, it might behoove you to get in touch with your local cable provider (are there any of those anymore?) and see if they want to partner up with a sales and marketing deal. Further, it wouldn't surprise me to see Verizon, say, announce a big deal with a Honeywell or ADT, leveraging their super-fast Fios connection.