Why You Shouldn’t Worry About AT&T’s Entrance Into the Security Market

There is a lot of hoopla about AT&T entering the security market. It’s not just rumor; it’s here. We can expect many ads advertising AT&T’s all-digital, wireless-based home security and automation system. According to all the hype, AT&T is going to sell, install, service and monitor. How is competition from this giant likely to affect your security business?

Well, for starters, how does ADT competition affect your business? Although there are certainly a bunch of private (or public) companies out there that compete against ADT in certain marketplaces, most alarm companies are usually selling to a different customer. Most alarm companies are not able to mass-market free installation of systems and bank on the recurring monthly revenue (RMR).

I am not sure how AT&T plans to price its services, but I am going to take a chance and suggest that it will probably go head to head with ADT. The AT&T promotional information thus far promises a wide variety of services. Its branded service, “Digital Life” will include cameras, window/door sensors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, motion and glass break sensors, door locks, thermostats, moisture detection and appliance power controls. Devices will connect via the Internet.

My perspective in the industry is different from yours. I’m not in the alarm business. I’m a customer, a subscriber. I happen to have an alarm system, but 80 to 85% of fellow citizens don’t. That’s your market.

Your advertising budget doesn’t come close to ADT’s, and it’s not going to come close to AT&T. Let the two of them knock themselves out getting the public all worked up about all the new alarm security services. While many potential customers are going to respond to these ads, more than enough will be willing to shop the services. You know the principal advantages of your business and you provide personalized services. It doesn’t take half an hour or more to get through to your service department, and you don’t tell your customers that your service tech is going to be there any time from Monday 9 a.m. to Friday 5 p.m.

[ASIDE: Do I sound pissed? Last month I had two appointments scheduled with Verizon, an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule, or something like that. For two days, they never showed up. They didn’t even call. That’s for phone and Internet, which I already have. Do you think I — or any other consumer — will accept that kind of responsive service when security services are involved? I don’t. END OF ASIDE.]

So, my prediction is that AT&T’s entrance to this market — and we can expect more giants to get involved — is going to heighten awareness and open more opportunities for you to market your services.

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About the Author


Security Sales & Integration’s “Legal Briefing” columnist Ken Kirschenbaum has been a recognized counsel to the alarm industry for 35 years and is principal of Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum, P.C. His team of attorneys, which includes daughter Jennifer, specialize in transactional, defense litigation, regulatory compliance and collection matters.

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