Brinks Home Strikes Deal to Service AT&T Digital Life Customers
AT&T informed Digital Life subscribers their 3G controllers will not be upgraded and they have the option to sign a new service contract with Brinks Home.
It’s been eight years and change since AT&T Digital Life first brought its home security offering to the marketplace. Long live AT&T Digital Life. An email recently delivered to subscribers indicates the business will be essentially phased out by the time the telecom giant shutters its 3G network in February 2022.
That’s not an insignificant exit, considering the hundreds of thousands of accounts involved. Which security provider is stepping up to seize all that potential recurring revenue and upsell opportunity? The answer can be found in the opening paragraph of AT&T’s subscriber email, which SSI has reviewed:
As part of our network upgrade and the sunset of 3G in early 2022, your Digital Life controller which utilizes 3G will not be upgraded and your AT&T Digital Life service will be impacted. The good news is, we have worked with one of the most recognized names in security, Brinks Home, to provide you an opportunity to continue your home security and automation services, without interruption and including upgrade options we know you will value.
Your exclusive offer includes:
- No increase in your monthly fee
- Professional installation and limited, or no upfront cost*
- The same services you have today, with some expanded capabilities*
- Continued use of existing devices or comparable Brinks Home devices, with some upgrades included*
- Replacement of all existing cameras with newly upgraded cameras at no cost*
- Ability to add new devices, such as the highly requested video doorbell*
[* Whenever possible, existing compatible equipment will be integrated rather than replaced. Not all features/devices are available through Brinks Home. Certain devices may require an additional charge.]
The letter goes on to inform while AT&T will no longer support the Digital Life service long-term, the system and peripherals will remain active until transferred to Brinks Home, which requires a 36-month monitoring contract and acceptance of its standard contact terms and obligations.
I reached out to Brinks Home to learn more details about the agreement, but a spokesperson said the company was “not able to comment at this time.” AT&T has not acknowledged a request for additional information.
AT&T’s exit from the space has been brewing for some time. In 2017, the telecom giant was reportedly shopping the smart home subsidiary in an effort to pay down debt in anticipation of its Time Warner acquisition. However, a sale of Digital Life never transpired and the carrier has remained tight-lipped about the business ever since.
So, what gives with the transaction between Brinks Home and AT&T? Was there some sort of account acquisition involved here? Has Brinks Home ponied up a handsome fee for access to all those Digital Life customers? One thing is for sure: AT&T wants no part of making all those Digital Life customers whole with a 5G upgrade truck roll.
To bring some possible clarity to the transaction, I checked in with Kirk MacDowell, founder and CEO of MacGuard Security Advisors. “This is most likely a two-tier approach, and it gets AT&T out from a potential landslide of 3G to LTE, customer dissatisfaction and potential legal issues of not upgrading consumers to newer cell technology,” he says.
MacDowell, who is a member of SSI’s Editorial Advisory Board, suggests there are a couple of scenarios to consider here. Most likely, the Brinks Home partnership with AT&T is a “qualified” purchase of accounts, he says. Brinks Home is known for out-of-the-box deal making and they like companies in distress. And AT&T Digital Life certainly fits that bill.
“The qualifier is that the homeowner needs to upgrade the old system to Brinks’ system,” MacDowell posits. “Quite frankly, Brinks may pay AT&T for all leads that result in a sale. It’s like a merger in reverse, but clearly Brinks will only pay for accounts that make the change to LTE on new Brinks’ equipment.”
A second scenario, MacDowell describes, has Brinks Home possibly performing as the service wing for Digital Life customers. The expectation here is that Brinks Home will have the opportunity to rip out old equipment and put in its own new gear.
“For sure, this is a blended approach with many twists and turns. It will be a good deal for Brinks Home and good that it gets AT&T out of a pickle,” MacDowell says. “I would envision that there isn’t a standard asset purchase here, but rather an agreement of the companies to work together for a specific amount of time to accomplish no. 1 and no. 2, or some derivative of the two.”
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