Cable Tech

Verizon's Bold Broadband Ambitions

Just as Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is rolling out "4G" broadband wireless nationally, the company is also making a push for nationwide services. Verizon thinks it can develop national offerings that build on its wireless and business services but deliver much more to the home and small business, even over the broadband networks of cable and telco competitors.

It's a point CEO Ivan Seidenberg is expected to emphasize when he takes the International CES stage Thursday. He'll be trying to showcase his company as a service innovator, not just in "4G" but in advanced home and global IP applications. Those applications are already on display at Verizon's first-ever large booth at CES.

That national market is why Verizon designed its Connected Home service, announced earlier this week, on a broadband platform that is technology agnostic, says Eric Bruno, vice president of product management for Verizon. He also points to Verizon's Flex View video service, a cloud-based offering that lets consumers download video to any type of viewing device, as an approach to video that will be taken nationally. (See Verizon Tests Home Monitoring and Verizon FiOS Gets Flexible)

"We have built what we expect to be a national service platform, so it is broadband-agnostic," Bruno says. "We are making a marketing decision to introduce it into our FiOS and [DSL] markets, because those are the places where we have the most control over our environment. But as you have seen with the Flex View video service we just launched, we have national service capability."

There isn't yet a commitment to taking Connected Home national, Bruno cautions. Verizon wants to learn from its New Jersey pilot how much consumer interest is out there, whether its pricing strategy is right and how much support and coddling consumers will need.

"What we knew when we designed this was [that going national] was a potential decision," he says. "We have a sister company with a national footprint. With LTE rolling out, it would be a little shortsighted if we didn't do this."

The initial Connected Home services, Home Monitoring and Control, are ones that consumers can easily understand and in which they can see immediate value, Bruno says. Consumers already pay for home security services, and they will be given tools to show how controlling energy-consuming appliances will save them money.

What Verizon can add, according to Bruno, is a unified control panel that takes input from multiple devices and is visible across multiple screens, including the TV, the PC and a smart phone. Consumers could then buy specific kits or peripheral devices such as cameras, lights for monitoring and sensors, and smart thermostats for home energy control, to customize their deployment. There are three initial basic kits, plus additional devices sold separately.

To help consumers install all this gear themselves, Verizon has created and made available "dozens if not hundreds of video snippets" -- 20- to 30- second how-to videos. There will also be third-party partners available to do installations for those not interested in the DIY approach, and beefed-up telephone support for all, Bruno promises.

Bruno says consumers would pay up front for the hardware involved, and Verizon will make a profit selling that. After that, the company expects to charge a monthly fee of less than US$10, no matter how many additional devices or services are used within the home.

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— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

spc_markl 12/5/2012 | 5:16:09 PM
re: Verizon's Bold Broadband Ambitions


Verizon continues to view broadband residential wireline as a losing proposition.  Our contacts are presently telling us that in perhaps no more than two years, it will get out of the cable business.  However, the short-term plan could be just to continue to own and maintain the FiOS network, while another company provides the programming services.

Mark, Telecom Pragmatics

cnwedit 12/5/2012 | 5:16:08 PM
re: Verizon's Bold Broadband Ambitions

Mark --

So how does the Flex View announcement fit into that view of Verizon's future? Are you saying Verizon is developing these services -- as they are telling me -- with the expectation of getting out of the network operation business?

cnwedit 12/5/2012 | 5:16:04 PM
re: Verizon's Bold Broadband Ambitions

Interesting thoughts, Mark.

I agree with you on the "home of the future" history - I think that is why Verizon is taking a step back and starting a pilot with two much better defined and less pie-in-the-sky services. And it is a pilot -- Verizon admits there is much to learn here.

spc_markl 12/5/2012 | 5:16:04 PM
re: Verizon's Bold Broadband Ambitions


Your questions are good ones.  I brainstormed them with my business partner, Sam Greenholtz.

1. Verizon tried to pull this kind of “home of the future” service off in the past and it was a blatant failure. 

2. “Technology agnostic” certainly means it can all be done on wireless. 

3. Another possibility is that the company running the cable business can take on the Flex View services.   (There may be something afoot with Verizon’s developing relationship with Google.)

4. How much of a commitment is to this “pilot” program?”  (It could also be a trial balloon to see how the market will respond.)

5. What will be the cost to retrofit monitoring, electrical, etc. in existing homes even if they are getting the FiOS service now?  (With the market in a funk, in which not a whole lot of new homes are being built, how much of the service will be sold anyway?)

6. With one company having the ability to monitor all of the security, it becomes easier for somebody to hit that line and tap/interfere with it, and a whole neighborhood could be wiped out – and thieves could have a field day.


paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:16:03 PM
re: Verizon's Bold Broadband Ambitions


At least on FiOS (and I will give the folks here a bit of an update on it since I worked on this with them), it is a shared infrastructure so cutting 1 fiber cuts more than 1 home.

However, one of the things we found is that the reboot time of the ONT was very important to alarm systems.  If -48V was off for "too long", the alarm systems acted as if the phone line was cut and did whatever it was going to do in that case.  Normally this was to use its wireless backup to tell the Alarm Company that wires were cut and they should dispatch the police.  This was "bad" (We really need a symbology for air quotes).


gerrygr 12/5/2012 | 5:16:03 PM
re: Verizon's Bold Broadband Ambitions

On the home security issue, how different is the situation from the current set up?  Thieves can just as easily cut the incoming telephone/cable line to disable the alarms.  I think that's why VZ will also add wireless backup to the monitoring services - as most security firms now do anyways, for an extra charge of course :)

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