Light Reading

Verizon Expands Home-Monitoring Service Plans

Carol Wilson

ORLANDO -- FTTH Council Conference 2011 -- Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is showing off a new home monitoring and control service it will launch on Oct. 11 as part of the FTTH demo home here this week.

For $9.95 per month, plus the cost of the equipment, Verizon's broadband subscribers will be able to remotely monitor their homes via video, secure windows and doors, track energy usage, and remotely control lights, temperature, appliances and door locks.

The service is initially available to Verizon's FiOS and DSL customers, but it will ultimately be sold on its own and could be a linchpin service in Verizon's larger connected home strategy, launched at CES in January. (See Verizon's Bold Broadband Ambitions and Verizon Devising Uber Strategy for Home Services.)

By rolling out a service that undercuts pricing by major home security firms like ADT, Verizon is staking out new turf -- albeit turf the Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and other cable firms also are exploring. (See Comcast Unlocks Home Security Service.)

Inside Verizon's connected home
The new Verizon service uses Z-Wave wireless connections within the home and is controlled by a gateway device that enables Internet-based connections via PC, Android or iOS tablets and smartphones. Consumers can buy the equipment in three kits, aimed at home monitoring, energy or both, and ranging in cost from $69.99 to $219.99. Additional gear can be added on a per-piece basis.

The pieces are control gateway devices; light modules that can turn lights on or off or dim them; smart thermostats; energy readers; motion detectors; appliance switches; window and door sensors; door locks; and three kinds of cameras -- indoor, outdoor, and pan and tilt.

Up to 200 devices can be deployed within a home, which is the Z-Wave limit.

Among the service features is the ability for motion detectors to alert homeowners via text or email of activity within the home. Consumers also can see via video who is at the front door and remotely enable entrance via the programmable door locks, which also respond to entrance codes.

The energy reader is attached to the electrical breaker box within the home and provides a readout of energy consumption. Consumers are able to remotely control the home thermostat and turn on or off appliances that are connected to switches.

Equipment will be shipped to consumers for a $7.99-per-order shipping fee with the expectation that most will be self-installed, although assistance could well be needed for thermostats and energy readers, and that will be provided at cost from or from anyone the consumer chooses.

The service will ultimately be offered separate from Verizon's broadband services over any Internet connection, but pricing may vary.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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