Home Control, Energy Management and Health Services On Tap For Cable Ops
By: Mike Farrell Jun 11 2013 – 5:13pm
Washington, D.C. – The broadband pipe won’t just be the conduit for Internet content in the future, with cable operators working diligently to provide services like home control, energy management and home health services in the not too distant future, according to a panel session at the Cable Show Tuesday.
At a session entitled, Coming Down the Pipe: Emerging Businesses Powered by Broadband and moderated by Multichannel News technology editor Jeff Baumgartner, top tech executives from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Mediacom Communications and Bright House Networks, outlined their strategies for using the robust cable infrastructure for new services. While home security dominated the early part of the conversation – a product that each MSO on the panel has launched – each executive said that even those existing offerings are evolving to include capabilities like thermostat control and other types of home automation.
Time Warner Cable vice president, corporate and new business development Shanti Grandhi added that the push has been to provide services under a connected home banner, providing home security bundled with other products that set it apart from the competition. According to the panelists, about 20% of the home security market is controlled by one company – ADT – but the rest is split between small mom and pop operations that provide services to neighborhoods. Cable operators have been addressing that larger segment by offering products in addition to simple alarms. For example, at Comcast, senior vice president and general manager of new business Mitch Bowling said the MSO includes an Eco Saver feature as part of its XFinity Home Control product that allows customers to set thermostats and turn on and off lights remotely.
Comcast as well as other companies have been repackaging their home services – decoupling home automation products from straight security services – as a way to better tailor the service to customers needs.
Bowling said each MSO has multiple products they can pull together to create offerings that “can literally change the way people live in their homes.” And he added, these products can help drive growth in other segments of the business,
Bowling said that about two-thirds of Comcast’s security customers have never had a home security product before. About 40% of its security customers in Q1 were not prior Comcast customers, and of those 40%, 64% went from zero Comcast products to four Comcast products.
Cox executive vice president and chief strategy officer Asheesh Saksena said home security also improves customers’ perception of their cable provider. He said that Cox’s home security customers regularly give an 8-9-or10 out of 10 recommendation rating to the cable company.
As far as new products, each MSO executive said home healthcare could be a huge opportunity, both by providing connections between patients and doctors and for general health monitoring. Bowling said that on product Comcast is testing is a passive monitoring product for the elderly, which would track their movements patterns during the day and notify a third party when those patterns deviate form the norm.
Time Warner Cable is testing a televideo product that would allow patients to video chat with their doctors, as well as a biometric monitoring service that would allow doctors to receive real-time patient data like heart rates remotely.
Education also is a growth opportunity – Mediacom Business senior vice president Dan Templin said that the MSO is testing a distance learning offering that would give students access to classes they would not be able to access through their local school systems.