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Cox breaks into home security field as a high-tech provider
[November 30, 2012]

Cox breaks into home security field as a high-tech provider

Nov 30, 2012 (Tulsa World - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Home security systems are offered by dozens of local companies.

But when Cox Communications decided to break into the market, it decided to add something a little extra.

The cable provider's new offering, now available in the Tulsa area, combines traditional security monitoring with web access, video streaming, remote access and even light and thermostat control, all running off broadband.

Cox was able to expand into security service because its infrastructure is already in place, said Christine Martin, a company spokeswoman.

"We're already in the house and we already offer broadband," she said. "It made sense to start doing this." The service has two tiers and customers can choose the number of elements they would like to incorporate, but every package includes a specialized touchscreen tablet.

The device allows instant control and at-a-glance monitoring of every system in the house, and it can also download apps for weather, news, sports, pictures and more. The service can also be monitored and controlled via other tablets, laptops, computers and smartphones, and key fobs are available for instant arming and disarming.

"The days of having to run to the keypad to input a code are over," Martin said.

Customers are able to program any number of automatic rules, such as turning on a light at 6 p.m. or adjusting the thermostat when everyone has left for work, said Matt Byers, director of marketing for Cox Home Security.

Everything can be controlled or monitored remotely, and the system can even send out text alerts. For example, a parent could have the system send a text message if a child doesn't immediately come home from school and doesn't open the door by a specific time.

Byers said Cox employees who tried the system have come up with some unexpected uses.

"One employee has it set to when he comes home the Christmas tree is already on," he said.

Basic installation that either takes over an existing alarm system or installs two sensors, a motion detector and the tablet is $99.

Though each additional item installed has its own cost, Byers said customers are able to keep them and even reinstall them in case of a move.

"It's designed to be a portable system," he said.

The Essential package, which covers the basic alarm system and monitoring, costs $29.99 per month, while a preferred package that includes smoke and heat detection, water and carbon monoxide monitoring, video monitoring and light and thermostat controls runs $39.99 Although the service runs on broadband, it has a cellular backup in case of outages and doesn't require Cox cable or Internet services to operate, Martin said.

Byers said that after a test run in Phoenix proved a success, Tulsa was chosen to be among the first wave of Cox markets to receive the service.

Despite the head start on infrastructure, it still took Cox almost six months to prepare for the service in Tulsa, including training technicians and hiring locally based customer service employees for marketing.

"Everyone who works on it has to be specially licensed, so it's a process," Byers said.

The goal is to have all of Cox's local technicians licensed for home security as well as equipped to handle home service for the rest of Cox's services, although that will take some time, he said.

Cox is already looking ahead to add new functions, Byers said.

Some include remote garage door control, a keypad on deadbolts with lock controls and time-sensitive codes, motion-activated cameras, interior light switch controls and automated curtains.

Robert Evatt 918-581-8447 ___ (c)2012 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.) Visit Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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