AT&T to expand Digital Life into business, healthcare markets

BARCELONA, Spain--AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) plans to expand its Digital Life home automation service into two new markets: business and healthcare. The action represents the carrier's efforts to expand the platform beyond its current market of individual home security and automation.

Glenn Lurie, president of AT&T's Emerging Enterprises and Partnerships business, said the carrier is "very pleased" with the current sales of Digital Life, which is now available in 63 U.S. markets. Digital Life is built on AT&T's acquisition of Xamboo in 2010; AT&T first launched Digital Life in a handful of markets in 2012. Lurie said Digital Life's average revenue per user is higher than AT&T expected, and that most customers are purchasing the offering's security and home automation options and then modifying it for their home's individual characteristics.

Lurie said that, since AT&T's Digital Life service is built on an all-IP platform, the carrier can add additional services relatively easily. He said the carrier has targeted business users at small-, medium- and large-sized corporations and the healthcare market as the next two areas where it will expand Digital Life into. Lurie said AT&T is testing new sensors and services as part of its plan to expand into these two areas, but declined to provide specifics on exactly what the carrier would offer and when it would officially launch into the new markets.

In healthcare specifically, Lurie explained that Digital Life could help older customers stay in their houses more safely. He said Digital Life could, for example, support monitors and tracking technologies that would be able to tell if someone fell over and couldn't get up. The platform could also track the use of prescriptions and medicines, and could support wearable healthcare monitors that could track users' heart rate and other vitals.

With these kinds of services, "now I have all the tools to be a caregiver from wherever," Lurie explained.

AT&T's plans to expand its Digital Life service stand in stark contrast to Verizon's approach to the home automation market. FierceCable reported earlier this month that Verizon (NYSE: VZ) stopped accepting orders for its Home Monitoring and Control product, and will only allow FiOS customers who already subscribe to the $9.99 monthly service to continue using it. Verizon introduced Home Monitoring and Control, which lets FiOS subscribers control security cameras, lighting, door locks and thermostats with their FiOS TV remotes, and through a mobile application and website, in 2011. It stopped accepting new orders in October.

But AT&T isn't alone in targeting the home security and automation market. Companies like ADT have long targeted the sector, and cable companies like Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) market their respective Xfinity Home and IntelligentHome products to broadband subscribers.

However, Verizon officials have suggested that the telco may introduce a new home automation product, but wouldn't say if the company is considering adopting a wireless-based approach similar to AT&T Digital Life.

AT&T executives have repeatedly touted Digital Life as a potential $1 billion business that can help the carrier boost growth amid flattening postpaid subscriber growth and rising smartphone penetration. AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega said last year that home security and automation is a segment that's big and fragmented but has good margins.

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