Raise your hand if you want the Cable Guy in charge of your home security. Any cable guy – we’ll let you choose. There’s Larry the Cable Guy – he’s the reliable sort, right? Or Jim Carrey’s Cable Guy – surely he’s safe? Or, back to reality, let’s just talk about your experiences with your own cable provider. How do they score on reliability and customer service?
All joking aside, we’re finding it difficult to get behind the cable companies’ home security offers. We understand why they’re doing it – customer attrition is a serious issue in that industry, and they want to offer value-added services that keep their customers locked in. Once you get their home security system installed, you’re a lot less likely to drop your cable service, because you’d lose your security investment.
Xfinity, offered by Comcast, is perhaps the best known of the cable/internet bundled deals, which now includes a home security offer. In order to get their home security, you must contract for their internet services and you can’t cancel. The home security package includes options for some popular new features, such as wireless equipment, remote access, video cameras and home automation. However, Xfinity is priced higher than most competing home security services with the same features, and they lock you in with a 3-year contract. The alarm system installation costs hundreds of dollars. They also tack on an extra $5 every month for a warranty (warranties are free from most security companies).
Xfinity’s biggest flaw, however, aside from the long-time issues with customer service, is that their home security service connects to the monitoring center via the internet.
“Internet” and “Reliable” – in the Same Sentence?
Someone’s breaking into your house, and your safety depends on your internet connection? Should you reboot your modem real quick before the intruder knocks the door down? Or maybe you should call your cable company’s Customer Service. Does their automated call screening system now include, “Press 9 if a burglary is in progress”?
An alarm system needs to be monitored round-the-clock, by highly-trained staff, prepared to handle any emergency. Responsiveness is critical. There must be a reliable connection between the home and the monitoring center, because if it fails, no one sends help. Traditionally alarm systems have connected using your home phone line. The cable guys, of course, use their internet connection. Neither is acceptable, in our opinion. They simply aren’t reliable. Although a phone landline (if we still have such a thing) doesn’t fail as often as the internet does, it is still vulnerable to power outages, storms, and most especially, the burglars themselves. Burglars have learned to cut the lines and cables, assuming that will disable your alarm system.
A cellular connection is the only reliable way for your home security system to reach the monitoring center. We suspect that the cable providers might actually know this, because they offer “cellular back-up.” So… they acknowledge that they need back-up… That tells you something, doesn’t it?
Home Security vs. Home Automation
The concept of a “smart” home, with integrated, automated services is quickly gaining popularity. Many home security companies successfully integrate home automation features with their highly interactive alarm systems. The remote access and customization capabilities are already built into the alarm system, so adding automated lighting, door locks or climate control is an easy, natural progression.