AT&T barges into home security and automation business
NEW YORK ó AT&T Inc. will start selling home automation and security services nationwide, taking on incumbents led by Tyco International Ltd.ís ADT.
The installations and services will be sold in AT&T stores, starting with a trial this summer in Dallas and Atlanta.
Several of AT&Tís competitors, including cable TV company Comcast Corp. and phone company Verizon Communications Inc., have ventured into the home automation and security field. Dallas-based AT&T is showing more ambition with its stated goal of selling nationwide, rather than sticking to its landline service territory, as Verizon does.
Steven Winoker, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, said about 23 percent of U.S. homes have security systems, so thereís plenty of room to grow. Even fewer have automation systems for controlling appliances, lights, heating and cooling.
The biggest player in the field is ADT, but it has only 25 percent of the market. Many smaller companies make up the rest, according to Winoker.
Itís a very profitable business, Winoker said, but itís not big enough to significantly affect the earnings of a company of AT&Tís size even if itís successful, given that itís a relatively small market.
AT&Tís technology comes from Xanboo, a company it bought in late 2010. Its central control panel can connect wirelessly with cameras, thermostats, appliance controls, lights and sensors for doors, windows, smoke and carbon monoxide. Through the panel, home owners can then control their home from their cellphones.
Itís highly recommended that the control panel is connected to wired broadband, but it doesnít have to be service through AT&T, said Glenn Lurie, AT&Tís president of emerging devices. As a backup, the panel can connect to AT&Tís wireless data network.
AT&T didnít say what its services would cost.
AT&T made its announcement on the eve of the U.S. cellphone industryís annual trade show, which starts today in New Orleans.
AT&T is a major telecommunications provider in the Charleston region.