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Bright House locks up home automation deployments in Fla.

Mon, 04/23/2012 - 1:03pm
Mike Robuck

Bright House Networks Home Security & AutomationBright House Networks has hit the ground running in Florida with a feature-rich home automation and security system.

The service, which is called Bright House Networks Home Security & Automation, launched in mid-March in Hillsborough County and is now being deployed in Pinellas County, both of which are in the Tampa Bay area. Bright House Networks, which is the nation’s sixth-largest cable operator, was one of the first cable operators in the nation to go head-to-head with Verizon’s FiOS service when it launched in Florida.

Bright House will continue to roll out the home automation platform in other areas of Florida before moving on to systems in other states.

“With Bright House Networks’ advanced fiber-optic-based network, this next-generation system offers customers peace of mind by giving them more control over their life and making it easier to manage their home, all with the convenience of one single provider,” said Mike Robertson, senior vice president of operations for Bright House Networks.

Similar to home automation services that are offered by Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications, Bright House Networks’ home automation system lets subscribers manage their home networks via a touchscreen. Bright House is using the same SMC Networks touchscreen that Cox and Comcast are using, while all of the above cable operators are using software from iControl to provision their respective services.

While Bright House Networks’ system does provide home security, it also helps users manage and monitor their energy, lighting and home appliances via the touchscreen. The security cameras connect to the touchscreen via Wi-Fi, while the rest of the peripherals in a home are connected to it via ZigBee.

Notifications can be sent via email or text message to alert homeowners if their thermostats have gone above a certain level. Users can also adjust their thermostats or turn on lights remotely.

On a more personal level, customers can set alerts for when a door is opened, which can let a parent not only know when a child has returned home from school, but also take a picture of who is coming through the door.

Bright House Networks also made an extra effort to make sure its home automation system works with some of the traditional wired home security systems that customers have already installed. If the wired system isn’t compatible, Bright House techs can swap out the security panel for one that does work. With either option, the cable operator is able to take over some wired security systems if customers choose to keep a system they’ve already paid for.

The base price of the service is $32 per month, plus an installation fee of $100. The system was designed to be customized to each homeowner’s floor plan or specific desires, such as cameras that monitor certain doors, or even a dog kennel. Customers can design and set their own rules and parameters for the security and home automation features, and they can arm or disarm the security system remotely, online and with a wireless key fob.

Prior to the launch, Bright House Networks had its customer service reps and technicians undergo specialized training for the home automation service.

Bright House Networks’ Home Security & Automation service includes professional sales, installation and service from one of its state-certified burglar and fire alarm systems agents. Bright House Networks Home Security & Automation customers are supported by a 24/7 emergency response center (ERC), ensuring reliability, including intrusion and fire, through a UL-approved central monitoring center.

One of the hurdles to deploying a home automation service that includes a security system is gaining franchise approvals from cities and counties in order to be patched into things like ERCs.

Service providers are looking at deploying home automation systems to reduce churn and add incremental revenues to their bottom lines. Cable operators have existing relationships with their customers via their triple-play services, particularly the data services that provision home automation, but face competition from entrenched security firms, such as ADT, public utilities, and even retail offerings from the likes of Best Buy.

According to Parks Associates, annual subscription revenues from the various system offerings will be more than $180 million by 2015. Parks estimated that 60 percent of homes across the nation would have some type of networked energy management system by 2022.

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