www.sptnews.ca

News
Can Rogers convince customers it’s time for smart home services?

No one in the residential security market seems particularly worried about Rogers Communications making an entrance into the intrusion market.


February 14, 2011
By Jennifer Brown

The first reason is obvious — other telcos in Canada have tried it before and failed. The second is that there are legions of irate Rogers customers out there who would probably be loathe to entrust their home security to an organization they a) already pay too much for Internet, cell and cable service; and b) has a fairly bad track record for customer service and billing.

The other reason is that Rogers doesn’t seem to realize that when they talk about the technologies they say they are going to offer as part of their Rogers Smart Home Monitoring service, they sound a little behind the times. These technologies have been available through other security vendors for several years now.

I recall experts from Honeywell Canada demonstrating cellphone based monitoring tools and home automation features to me on a show floor about two years ago. Another showed me how he monitored his home entrance way and driveway from his BlackBerry going back at least three years ago.

While Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed announced his intention to enter the market in early November, it seems few who actually manage communications to the media at the company know anything about his plans. When contacted by SP&T News in early January to see what the current status of the rollout was, it took them a week to get back to us. The answer that came back was, quite frankly, hardly befitting a large organization the size of Rogers. The PR person who answered my query didn’t even want to have the answer attributed to her directly.

If and when Rogers Smart Home Monitoring launches — and given that Verizon and Comcast in the U.S. have pulled it off, it seems likely Rogers will indeed try — the one factor the traditional residential market will have to consider is the way consumers have adopted the services offered by other companies. Bundling could be the one advantage the company has in getting new clients to sign on to security systems — especially those technophiles who have smart phones and are anxious to add one more app — monitoring of their homes.

Another thing Rogers does have going for it is a highly effective marketing machine. Unlike other security-centric companies it will probably do a better job promoting what consumers can use their security services and home energy management tools to do. They have said that “energy management” will be one of the options available. Thanks to time of use billing from hydro utilities, everyone is obsessed with controlling their use so this fits in at the perfect time.

And hey, what’s one more service added to the bundle, right?

Another idea some security industry watchers have put forward is the possibility that Rogers may look to buy a large existing home security provider, rather than train existing or new employees the security business.

All they are saying right now is that the service will be provided by: “dedicated customer service and response teams specially trained in home monitoring and security.”
 
In any event, there are many in the industry watching the situation closely. Manufacturers no doubt have an interest in selling hardware to what could be a significant conduit to expansion for the industry.