Comcast unveiled a home security product in six markets on Wednesday in what I expect will become a larger effort for Comcast as well as other Internet Service Providers that want to avoid becoming just a broadband delivery pipe. As their traditional pay TV and voice businesses face pressure from folks deciding to cut both the pay TV and wireline phone cords, service providers are seeking other ways to boost their bottom lines. Home monitoring is one such option that’s been bandied about the industry for a while.
The Comcast Xfinity Home Security service offers traditional home security components with 24/7 monitoring as well as the ability to adjust digital thermostats, turn lights on or off and watch secure live streaming video from wireless cameras while away from home. So there’s a security and an energy savings component here, one that’s likely easier than the set up that Kevin rigged up for himself a few months back.
And like any hot new service, it also comes with an iPhone app, so customers can monitor and control their home settings on the go. The service works over Comcast’s wired network and has a cellular component (presumably tied to Clearwire and Sprint which are Comcast’s partners on the wireless side). The connected nature of the product offers the ability for consumers to watch their home surveillance cameras via the web, but also to get alerts via email or text when a window opens or something occurs. I remember sitting with the CEO of a startup back in 2003 pitching the same idea only to watch as that company spent millions of venture dollars and eventually failed, in part because broadband wasn’t as widespread and also because the video quality sent over DSL and older cable networks wasn’t as high as it is now.
The Comcast service, which starts at $39.95 a month, was first unveiled in Houston in mid 2010 and is now being rolled out in parts of Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; Jacksonville and Sarasota/Naples, Fla.; Chattanooga and Nashville, Tenn. Additional markets will be introduced on a rolling basis.