Verizon unveiled Monday a new high-powered gateway router, co-developed with Internet of Things (IoT) company Greenwave Systems and powered by its Axon software platform.
Details of the FiOS Quantum G1100 gateway first leaked through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in March with a document showing that the hardware included support for Zigbee and Z-Wave in addition to 802.11ac WiFi. The gateway then appeared on the account page for at least one FiOS subscriber in late August, albeit with a broken image link and few details. (See Verizon Smart Home Service Inches Closer.)
With the official launch of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s router today, the confirmed specifications for the new Quantum device include a dual-core processor, gigabit Ethernet with a four-port Ethernet switch, MoCA 2.0, dual-band WiFi over 2.4GHz and 5GHz, beamforming technology, 802.11ac WiFi and Z-Wave support.
Greenwave also confirmed that Zigbee connectivity -- which is widely used for smart home features like energy management, lighting control and motion sensing -- will be made available through a home area network (HAN) expansion module. The gateway is capable of delivering wireless download speeds of 800 megabits per second and offers an "unobstructed WiFi range" of up to 325 feet.
The new Quantum G1100 gateway is available online starting today for FiOS customers.
Why this matters
While Verizon hasn't specified that it will use the new Quantum router for home monitoring and automation services, the inclusion of Zigbee and Z-Wave support, in addition to Greenwave's expertise in home control technologies, suggests that a new smart home solution is in the works. Verizon's official line is: "We have nothing to announce at this time." However, the company also isn't denying that it will get back into the smart home business.
Verizon previously offered a home monitoring and control service based on technology from Motorola Solutions Inc. (NYSE: MSI) that was acquired in that company's purchase of 4Home. But the 4Home solution didn't survive Motorola's acquisition by first Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and then Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), and Verizon abandoned the service in 2013. Since then, Verizon has remained on the sidelines of the smart home sector while competitors like Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) have aggressively pursued the market. (See Betting on Smart Homes and AT&T Continues Smart Home Push.)
Meanwhile, Greenwave has continued to further its own ambitions in the smart home space. The company already has an established track record with major customers that include DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) and the large European utility company E.ON. And now, by partnering with Verizon on a gateway product, the startup company is potentially pitting itself directly against industry hardware giants like Arris and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).
Greenwave is looking to differentiate itself by delivering a platform that makes use of both the company's hardware expertise and its software smarts. As the company's Chief Technologist Jim Hunter described it earlier this year, "what we're building at Greenwave is a fabric." That fabric is meant to tie together lots of IoT applications and give service providers an effective way to manage increasingly complicated home and personal networks.
Chief Marketing Officer Nate Williams explained in a conversation today that Greenwave wants to help service providers compete in the IoT industry -- an industry that already includes heavyweights Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google -- and "in the emerging IoT battle between device-centric and network-centric companies." Williams added that, "We're at the intersection of media, data and IoT, and we want to be the horizontal platform that can help bring those things together for service providers."
Greenwave CEO Martin Manniche also noted in today's press release that, "We are gratified that Verizon selected Greenwave as its strategic development partner, and promise more innovations to follow as we continue to strengthen our working relationship." For now, Verizon is talking about innovations like feature updates that offer new "privacy and security access controls," but it sounds like more technology advancements may be on the way.
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— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading