Optical/IP Networks

Verizon's Home Hub-Bub (But No Femto)

If you were expecting a femtocell from Verizon Wireless soon, the Verizon Wireless Hub -- due on Feb. 1 -- ain't quite it. (See 'Verizon Hub' Debuts Feb. 1.)

In fact, the Hub is a home media device with VoIP capabilities wrapped in the guise of a deskphone. Verizon describes it as "souped up" touch-screen home phone system that "runs on any broadband connection – whether supplied by Verizon FiOS Internet or DSL or any other high-speed service provider."

The CDMA giant says that the Hub bridges the gap between wired and wireless. It doesn't, however, do so in the way that a femtocell generally does, which is by bolstering mobile voice and data connectivity in the home with the tiny base station and backhauling that traffic over the wired network.

Unstrung called Verizon Friday afternoon to double-check that there was no femtocell radio hiding inside the Hub -- after all, you never know where vendors and operators will stick them these days. "It is not [a femtocell]," a Verizon spokeswoman confirmed.

Instead, Verizon Wireless users will be able to send text, picture, and video messages between the Hub and their phone. The operator is also promising to connect users to various V-Cast applications, including its Navigator app.

The operator will charge $199.99 for the Hub, with a $50 mail-in rebate. Users will need to sign up for a $34.99 monthly service charge for two years with the device.

So what news of Verion's femto ambitions? The operator had said that it wanted to launch a femtocell early in 2009. (See Verizon Eyes Femtos for 2009.)

The Verizon spokeswoman didn't have any detail on tiny base stations waiting in the wings. "That's not part of this announcement," she says. (See Verizon Femto Next Week?)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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