I mentioned this was coming, but Rogers Communications has made it official: it has now started offering a smart home monitoring service to its customers in Ontario, and as part of this service it can give users the ability to (remotely) control in-house lighting, heating/cooling settings, and certain appliances as part of a broader home automation package, which wisely puts the emphasis on home security — something homeowners are more likely to pay for. As expected, the platform behind this service offering is iControl, which Rogers invested in back in June.
Here’s how Rogers describes it: “At the heart of the system is an ultra-rugged, easy-to-use touchpad that consumers use to arm/disarm and manage their system. Available in wall-mount or table-top, the touchpad provides quick 1-touch access to home security functions, home automation apps for lighting, cameras and thermostats as well as multimedia apps for photos, traffic, weather and sports. When an alarm occurs, the touchpad instantly connects with the Rogers central monitoring station simultaneously over both Rogers cable and wireless networks. The touchpad constantly communicates with its highly encrypted smart sensors throughout the home, checking their status, signal strength, battery level and even room temperature.”
The customer can control the systems through a wireless device, such as an iPhone, and alternatively, the customer can get alerts on his/her wireless device via text message or e-mail.
Sounds quite comprehensive, and certainly using this kind of platform makes it easier for Rogers to add new sensors and services to the mix as its customer base becomes more comfortable with the system. Now, the issue of cost. This doesn’t come cheap. You can get the starter kit for $149 if you sign up for a three-year term, which isn’t a bad deal given that most people usually stick with the security services they choose. (If you don’t sign a multi-year deal, the kit will cost $749). Monthly plans start at $39.99 for basic service, and sensors can be added on an a-la-carte basis or as part of “value packs” that can be purchased at a discount. You also can’t install the system yourself, so there’s also a one-time installation fee of $99.
Then again, if home security is the focus and the rest is gravy, then maybe consumers won’t balk at the cost. Whatever the outcome, I’m glad Rogers is testing the waters with this because I truly believe this is the only way energy management technologies will be widely introduced into the residential market. Here’s a Rogers video explaining the service here (notice the big emphasis on security).