Ina Fried

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Interview: AT&T’s Glenn Lurie on Being the New Sheriff in Town

Some people were scratching their heads a bit Monday after AT&T announced its plans to get into the home security game.

For his part, AT&T’s Glenn Lurie says he’s a bit surprised by everyone else’s surprise. The move, he says, is a natural fit for the communications company.

First off, the security business today is highly fragmented. Only ADT, with about 6 million homes, has much scale. Secondly, he says, there is an opportunity to offer far more services than are typically provided.

“It is ripe for someone to come in and do something new,” Lurie told AllThingsD in an interview at CTIA in New Orleans on Monday.

The company announced AT&T Digital Life — a service that uses wireless to provide all manner of home security and automation services. AT&T plans to offer everything from basic security service to full-scale home automation, with its workers handling everything from installation to monitoring. Pricing has not been announced.

It’s all part of AT&T’s broader plan to find new businesses to complement its wireless and landline business. Lurie says it’s not unlike its move into the TV game several years back, with U-Verse.

“Companies like us have to continue to look for these opportunities,” he said.

To show off its plans, AT&T has rented an 1860s-era house in New Orleans’ Garden District. It took only a couple of hours, Lurie said, to outfit it with a full set of sensors and monitors. With jazz playing in the background and a spread of appetizers that included alligator sausage, the company took reporters on tours of the house, showing off how an iPad can be used to monitor things throughout the home.

AT&T plans to test the Digital Life service this summer in Atlanta and Dallas. AT&T hasn’t announced how it will grow for now, but Lurie said the company’s plan is to offer it nationwide.

“We do view this as a significant growth opportunity, revenue-wise, in 2013,” he said. The company paved the way for the service with its late 2010 acquisition of a company called Xanboo.

The company is also working with carriers overseas to allow them to offer similar services. AT&T divulged its plans in that area back in February and several carriers have signed on, Lurie said, though he didn’t have any names to share.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald