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Comcast, Alarm.com Swoop in on Icontrol

Mari Silbey

After weeks of rumors about a sale, both Comcast and Alarm.com confirmed today their plans to divvy up and acquire the smart home platform company Icontrol. Terms of Comcast's deal were not disclosed, but Alarm.com is spending approximately $140 million on its part of the transaction. According to the Crunchbase database, Icontrol has raised more than $90 million from investors since 2003.

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) says that the main part of Icontrol Networks Inc. it intends to buy is the business unit in charge of the company's Converge software platform. Although Comcast has moved a portion of its smart home development work in house, it still relies on the Converge platform, which uses the Zigbee protocol, for parts of its Xfinity Home service, including its touchscreen panel and back-end servers. Comcast says it will continue to invest in this part of the business, and that current Icontrol employees will make up a new Comcast "engineering center of excellence" in Austin, Texas.

Alarm.com Inc. is targeting Icontrol's Connect and Piper businesses with its planned acquisition. The Connect solution uses the Z-Wave IoT protocol and powers security and home automation services from several providers including ADT Corp. The Piper business is built around a WiFi-enabled video and home automation hub. Icontrol bought the Piper technology in its acquisition of the company Blacksumac back in 2014.

Want to know more about the Internet of Things? Check out our dedicated IoT content channel here on Light Reading.

Many of the large cable companies in North America rely on Icontrol including Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI), Cox Communications Inc. and Charter Communications Inc. through the IntelligentHome business it acquired with the purchase of Time Warner Cable. However, Charter recently decided to put a pause on further sales of IntelligentHome, citing the need to evaluate the business as part of the process of integrating new assets from TWC. (See Why Charter May Shutter Its Smart Home.)

With Icontrol now selling its Converge business, Charter is placed in the uncomfortable position of licensing that technology from Comcast if it continues to develop and sell IntelligentHome. Given Charter's efforts to act as a counterpoint to Comcast in the rapidly consolidating North American cable market, that option likely doesn't appeal. (See Comcast & Alarm.com Reportedly Eye Icontrol.)

The Icontrol transactions are still subject to government approval. Both deals are expected to close before the end of the year.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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