Executive director of AT&T's Digital Life says trials on offering discounts to those home owners that opt in to share their data were well received and likely will be an option going forward.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

November 17, 2015

3 Min Read
AT&T Tests Data-Divulging Discounts for Digital Life

CHICAGO -- ITA Internet of Things Summit -- After spending the last few years analyzing what smart home services its customers care about -- and, more importantly, which they will pay for -- AT&T has discovered along the way that a desire for discounts often outweighs concerns over data privacy.

With AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Digital Life home security and automation platform, the customer owns the data, according to Stephan Vincent, executive director of strategy and development for AT&T-Digital Life. That is what sets Digital Life apart from other services from companies like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) or Facebook .

"Truly free services come at the expense of sharing data and privacy," he said when asked about how it can compete with free options. "AT&T is very protective of customer data, and we don't share it with anyone else."

Figure 1: AT&T's Digital Life ROI Strategy Vincent shared this chart breaking down what consumers are interested in and what they are willing to pay for, two sentiments that are not necessarily aligned. Security remains the most important and most lucrative opportunity. Vincent shared this chart breaking down what consumers are interested in and what they are willing to pay for, two sentiments that are not necessarily aligned. Security remains the most important and most lucrative opportunity.

That said, the carrier has trialed allowing its customers to share their data with marketing partners on an opt-in basis in exchange for discounts on the service. The results have generally been positive, Vincent said, so "you may see those types of models overlaid as we go."

As it is now, AT&T offers home security as a baseline product, with the option to add bundles around energy, doors, camera or water. AT&T installs all of the devices and locks customers into a two-year contract. It starts to realize a meaningful return on investment in year three, Vincent said, when consumers opt to continue their service without the contract. (See Analysts Predict Smart Home Slow Down.)

For more on how the smart home is shaping up, visit the Internet of Things section here on Light Reading.

Digital Life is currently in 83 markets across the US and is in trials with international operators like Telefónica to offer the service abroad. (See AT&T Looks Ahead & Abroad for Digital Life and AT&T & Telefónica Extend Digital Life to Europe.)

It's also in the process of trailing voice control in the home, as well as adding more third-party vendors to its ecosystem to offer its customers more choices for devices like thermostats. With everything it does, Vincent said it's focused on three themes going forward -- energy, presence and personalization. (See AT&T Adds New Partners to Its Digital Life.)

"These form the three high-level themes about how the smart home evolves beyond the thermostat," he said.

[UPDATE: AT&T says there have been no data-sharing trials for Digital Life and that Vincent misspoke. AT&T does have such a program in place for GigaPower, but has no plans to do one for Digital Life.]

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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