VoIP Bundles You Can Feel Safe About

Fellow blogger Garrett Smith had an interesting post today about the role home alarm services can play to help VoIP providers differentiate themselves in the market with their bundles. The news element to this post was that Alarm.com has just announced a deal with SunRocket, to go along with the deal they have with Vonage.

Mark Evans is pretty skeptical, and Andy Abramson sees some merit. Speaking of Andy, I just had to mention that he's been experimenting with videoblogging, as followers of his blog would know by now. He posted a fun one today, which I especially like since he's wearing a Red Sox hat.

Back to the story. So, I'm somewhere in the middle between Mark and Andy. While Garrett is reporting on the news aspect of the story, it's not all that new. Vonage discovered early on that their service did not support all home security services, and this sure was a rude shock to some subscribers. It's just one of those things you don't really think about when deciding to sign up for VoIP.

Well, we're well along that path now, and sure, home alarm over IP is a great service to offer in the bundle. I'm with Mark though - it's really a me-too service, and it won't take long for the cablecos and telcos to add a variation on this themselves. I was at an analyst breakfast this week for Allstream/MTS, and when they were talking about the consumer market, Manitoba Telecom is already doing the quintuple play - forget about the Triple Play. Home security is in this mix, along with wireline voice, wireless, broadband and digital TV. So, if little Manitoba Tel can do it, so can most everybody else.

To me, the bigger story - and challenge for the pureplay VoIP operators - is to build on this idea even further, and start looking at their customers not as consumers of communications services, but as inhabitants of the smart home. We're not there yet, of course, but once fiber gets to the home, that connection will able to host a huge variety of services - voice, data and video. Home security is just the beginning - the cool stuff will be around things like surveillance, automated home controls and virtual personal services.

These are things that providers like Vonage and SunRocket could really run with and call their own. The beauty of being an IP-based pureplay is that you can be anything you want to be, and serve customers anywhere. You're not bound by the footprint of your physical network, and you're not boxed in by the legacy of being a telco or a cableco. So, to me, this is the one area the VoIP pureplays have an inherent advantage, and home security is a smart first step along the way to creating a value proposition that the big players will have trouble matching. The trick is to do it differently so it's not a me-too. That will be hard, but at least this is an area where they have a head start, and this is the time to get it right - before the MSOs take over the market and the telcos come in with both feet.

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