AT&T digs deep with 'Digital Life'

Telecommunications giant selling the experience and carving market penetration

The real deal

I had a chance to see the real deal, a demonstration house in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and I have to say that the product is good, the execution is solid and the installer training is there.

AT&T launched its Digital Life services in the Chicago area in April 2013, along with other markets. Paula Vallejo, a director of sales for AT&T national retail business, has been using Digital Life in her home for the past several months to keep track of her kids, manage her day-to-day tasks and monitor her home while she’s away at work. She’s not an official demo house but generously hosts media who want to see the solution firsthand and also has had AT&T Digital Life technicians visit for hands-on training. Most recently she began using the service to check the well-being of her dog, Bandit, who began suffering seizures and for that and the other capabilities, it definitely gives her peace of mind.

“I feel much more secure this go-around,” said Vallejo, who prior to having the AT&T solution had another security provider. “I have two teenagers and was able to nip a potential problem in the bud when I caught my son coming into the home with a suspicious backpack while I was away on vacation and viewed the video on my tablet.”

Vallejo has two wireless cameras, one at the front door with infrared imaging capability, another inside the front living room, a control panel in the closet, two smart sensor plugs for lighting control, door and window contacts, motion detector, glassbreak sensors, front door keypad, water sensors, carbon monoxide alarms and temperature/HVAC control. The Digital Life control panel, built by Cisco, is UL listed and runs the wireless home security and automation platform.

The Digital Life platform also includes built-in AT&T mobile Internet service and is also capable of Wi-Fi, Z-Wave and wired broadband connections. Subscribers can use their own wired broadband solution with the Digital Life system and can access the service and remotely control products from smartphones, tablets and PCs, regardless of carrier.

Vallejo’s husband Joe is a sergeant with a local area police department and he attested to the imaging capability of the cameras and also places trust in the system to protect his home. “Three months ago in Texas, there was an incident and the camera’s images were used to apprehend suspects—so it definitely can be used for identification, and also has infrared imaging. You can get a clip or an actually video of events. I just love knowing what’s going on in my home,” he said.

Paula Vallejo often uses the remote locking and unlocking features to let her mother into the home, or to set the lighting and temperature control via her tablet. “The apps are very customer friendly. I don’t like to have to think about a lot of different things and now I can automatically set schedules and go. When I have to change the schedule to let someone in or lock up again, I can do that easily and remotely,” she said.

She continued: “Customer experience is everything. This is our lifestyle and I offer my house as a demo because I too want to see what a customer will experience. When I had Digital Life installed, the technicians educated me on what they were doing and why; they sat down with me and went through the programs and applications. It’s so easy to use it that my 75-year-old mother can do it too. The system is 100 percent customizable. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s your choice. The security is first and foremost with Digital Life.”

The solution is definitely promoted by AT&T as security. There are two basic packages called Smart Security and Simple Security, with a monthly charge and initial installation fee. Simple Security includes 24/7 home monitoring, 24-hour battery backup, a wireless keypad, keychain remote, recessed sensors and an indoor siren for $29.99 a month plus $149.99 for equipment and installation. Smart Security includes the features of Simple Security plus a choice of three of the following: motion sensor, carbon monoxide sensor, glassbreak sensor, smoke sensor or takeover kit. Smart Security begins at $39.99 a month plus $249.99 for equipment and installation. Automation add-ons for the Smart Security package include water detection, water control, energy, door package and camera package. A two-year monitoring contract is required and early termination fees apply.