Rogers raises the bar on home security

22 Apr
Ian Pattinson (left) is Vice President Smart Home Monitoring and Ken Marshall is President for Atlantic Region with Rogers.

Ian Pattinson (left) is Vice President Smart Home Monitoring and Ken Marshall is President for Atlantic Region with Rogers.

When I heard cable and Internet giant Rogers was venturing into home security, I did a double-take.

I shouldn’t have, according to Ken Marshall, President for Atlantic Region with Rogers.

“It may seem out of the box for Rogers, but it’s not for two reasons,” Marshall said, in a phone interview. “First, we do have a history for innovation across the country, both on the wireless and wireline fronts… Second, we have been working on this product for quite a number of years now.”

Rogers actually introduced a home security system a decade ago, Marshall added, but withdrew it from the market until they had a product that was “ready for prime time.”

The service is called Rogers Smart Home Monitoring, and it actually redefines our notions of home security. The service does provide traditional burglary protection, with optional sensors on windows and doors as well as motion detectors, but also enables home monitoring and control. This is not an absolute first, as Vivint claims to offer similar services on its web site. However, I have written about Vivint before and it will take me a long time to forgive their aggressive sales tactics. Also, the Rogers service appears to be less expensive, starting at $20 per month (on a three-year contract) for basic home security, versus $50 per month with Vivint.

And why am I so impressed, on first blush?

“It’s way more than just home security,” said Ian Pattinson, Vice President Smart Home Monitoring, also on the phone. “It really is a smart system and someone who doesn’t have a need for burglary protection doesn’t have to take the home security part. The entire system is constantly connected to the cloud so your home is always connected through both wireline and wireless networks. Homeowners have both family safety as well as the convenience of always knowing what’s going on in the home and always being in control of what’s going on.”

The monitoring is straightforward: customers can log on at any time, via smartphone, tablet or computer, to see what’s happening in the home and alerts are sent by text or email whenever someone enters the home. Not only can parents tell when  kids are home from school, they can watch to see if they’re playing video games or doing homework.  Available equipment includes a day/night indoor/outdoor camera with night vision that Pattinson describes as “fantastic.”

Perhaps more significant is the home control option. Homeowners can have remote connections installed at various outlets, enabling them to switch on lights and appliances at will, making the home appear “lived in” when no one is home. As well, a smart thermostat is available that turns up the heat only when someone is present, a feature that has purportedly seen energy savings of about 12 percent for consumers in Ontario (where the service was introduced two years ago).

Marshall told of one customer who always became anxious at work, worrying that she may have left the curling iron plugged in. “So they plugged the curling iron into one of these sensors to allow her to switch it off from work.”

It’s this owner-managed connection and control service that costs $20 per month. Customers can choose central station monitoring as well for $13 per month, and camera monitoring is extra.

“Services are added a la carte,” Pattinson explained. “You have freedom and flexibility to choose different features. Some customers want central station monitoring, some don’t, some want cameras on top of that, and you take it from there.”

Rogers can piggyback on existing equipment from other security companies, saving some money for the homeowner. And you do not need to switch cable companies to sign up – Rogers will install the system independent of your current cable and Internet provider. However, there are bundling advantages if you are an existing Rogers subscriber.

I’m currently paying $36 per month to ADT for their central station monitoring service, which is more than the Rogers service would cost with fewer features. I am genuinely intrigued, and will be making an appointment with Rogers to learn more and possibly sign up.

This review is generally positive, based on information provided by Rogers. I will offer another commentary several months from now, with the benefit of time and experience.

In the meantime, Rogers should definitely be on your call list if you are thinking about purchasing, switching or upgrading your home security system.

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