AT&T Unchains Home-Security Plans

AT&T this summer will test out an IP-based home security, monitoring and control service -- dubbed Digital Life -- and plans to eventually offer the "smart home" service to any cable or telco broadband household across the nation.

According to AT&T, the service will provide automation, energy and water controls, as well as professionally monitored security services. Users will be able to access the Digital Life services from any Web-enabled device, including PCs, tablets and smartphones, regardless of wireless carrier.

AT&T did not announce expected pricing or availability. The telco plans to begin trials this summer in Atlanta and Dallas. The Digital Life system is based on technology developed by Xanboo, the home-automation company AT&T acquired in December 2010.

In North America, the electronic security market was $34 billion in 2011, with residential and small business comprising about 35% ($12 billion) of total revenue, according to estimates by Sanford Bernstein. Tyco International's ADT is the largest home-security provider, with an estimated 25% share of the market in 2010.

Cable operators including Comcast and Time Warner Cable are looking to carve out a chunk of the home-security market, as well. Meanwhile Verizon has introduced a "smart home" service in certain markets.

For the Digital Life service, AT&T built two all-digital monitoring centers for 24-hour operation. The telco said it will market and sell the service through its 2,300-plus company-owned retail stores, as well as on its website and via dedicated call centers.

The Digital Life platform includes built-in AT&T mobile Internet service and will also be able to use Wi-Fi, Z-Wave and wired broadband connections. Trial subscribers can use their own wired broadband solution with the Digital Life system and can access the service and remotely control the products from smartphones, tablets and PCs, regardless of carrier.

"AT&T Digital Life will change the way people live, work and play -- and meets a clear need in the market," Kevin Petersen, senior vice president of Digital Life for AT&T Mobility, said in a statement. "We're planning a unique suite of services, from start to finish, that will give homeowners control of their property and their possessions through an easy to navigate user interface."

AT&T Digital Life will provide connected devices including cameras; door locks; window and door sensors; thermostats; smoke, carbon monoxide, motion, moisture and glass-break sensors; and appliance-power controls. The service will include professional installation of the platform, sensors and other devices.

In February, AT&T announced plans to launch software development kit for international providers to equip global service providers with capabilities to offer customizable, Web-based home automation, energy and security services to their subscribers.

A demo of AT&T Digital Life is available here: AT&T is demonstrating the service at the 2012 CTIA Wireless show in New Orleans this week.