Researchers, Service Providers Bullish on Remote Home Control, Monitoring

By Joan Engebretson January 16, 2013

What a difference a mobile app can make.

Thanks to the proliferation of mobile apps enabling homeowners to remotely control home security systems, an industry that was for years perceived as quintessentially dull dry and boring is suddenly hot.

We’re only a couple of weeks into the new year and already three separate research firms have released reports touting strong demand for home control and monitoring systems that can be remotely controlled using a mobile device.

And during that same period, two telcos made home security and control-related announcements.

The research

The three research reports touting the remote home control and monitoring opportunity were as follows:

  • A report from Strategy Analytics found that 55 percent of broadband households in the U.S. and major western European countries were willing to pay for self-monitored security.
  • An 11-country online Accenture survey found that 12 percent of smartphone and tablet owners already use a phone or tablet to monitor and control home locking systems and that another 22 percent plan to do so.
  • A new Parks Associates report estimated that there were approximately 450,000 subscribers of bundled IP home management services in 2012, generating $500 million in revenues for those services, with growth driven in part by the extension of home management capabilities to multipurpose devices such as smartphones and tablets.

The ability for a mobile device to interface with a home security system has been around for a few years, initially enabling some fairly basic but valuable capabilities that could be supported by 2G devices, such as the ability for parents to receive a text message when a child returned home from school.

Building on capabilities such as those, alarm equipment manufacturers more recently have added remote control of video cameras, thermostats, door locks and other devices. And ADT, one of the largest security companies in the U.S., has helped generate awareness of these capabilities through aggressive advertising.

The service providers

Cable and telecom service providers are increasingly seeing home security and control as an excellent revenue opportunity because they can not only make money on installation, but may be able to earn monthly recurring revenue for the remote control capability – and if the customer so chooses, on professional 24/7 monitoring by a manned central station.

Service providers also see this as a natural fit for their business because homeowners need a cable modem, DSL or cellular data connection to support remote control of a home security and control system. If the customer opts for professional monitoring, the broadband connection also can provide the link to the central monitoring facility.

Within the last couple of weeks, the two largest U.S. telcos – AT&T and Verizon – both made home security and control-related announcements. AT&T said it would expand the home security offering it has been testing since mid-2012 to 50 markets this year. And Verizon, which until recently was shut out of the business of providing cellular alarm signaling to central monitoring facilities, has finally broken into that market, announcing that it would provide such connectivity to Lowe’s, which already has announced an update for the home security and control system it announced late last year.

Although cable companies have not said much about home monitoring and control of late, they’re quite actively involved in the market, as several of them already have home security and control offerings.

Meanwhile, rumors continue to circulate that one of the telcos or cablecos will purchase ADT – a move that could give the purchaser huge share in the home security and control market. The purchaser also would gain central monitoring facilities, which could boost their profit margins on monitored services.

 I can’t think of another mobile app that’s transformed an industry to the extent that remote home control and monitoring has transformed the home security business.

Edited by Braden Becker

Contributing Editor

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