Verizon clips VoiceWing, releases wireline VoIP service, femtocell device

* Verizon to discontiue VoiceWing service on March 31

Today, we've got Verizon on our minds. First, we have news of a wireline VoIP service from Verizon Wireless that includes a device called the Verizon Hub. Second, there is word that Verizon Telecom's VoiceWing VoIP product is being shut down effective March 31. And third, Verizon Wireless introduced a commercial femtocell so users can make mobile calls with the aid of an Internet connection.

The Verizon Hub was introduced Feb. 1, and features a new touch-screen home phone system that offers an unlimited VoIP-based calling plan. It also includes information and messaging features from Verizon Wireless on any broadband connection – whether supplied by Verizon FiOS Internet, DSL or any other high-speed service provider. The Hub is priced at $200 after a $50 rebate and the voice plan is $35 a month, with additional handsets priced at $80. The VoIP plan comes with standard calling features such as call waiting and call forwarding, along with more advanced VoIP features such as visual voicemail and contact list management. The Verizon Hub offers advanced attributes over competing VoIP services. The hub incorporates an adapted V CAST video feature (coming soon), text message calendar alerts, and audible navigational directions delivered to Verizon Wireless phones from the Verizon Hub.

In other Verizon news, Verizon Telecom has advised its existing VoiceWing customers that their service will be discontinued on March 31, leaving the Verizon wireline division with no consumer VoIP offer. Verizon halted new VoiceWing sales in late 2008. Verizon has been trying to position itself as a technology leader with FiOS, and trialed a new digital voice service using VoIP in late 2008. However, it has been slow to roll out the new VoIP service beyond initial technology trials conducted in Maryland and Virginia. If it’s any consolation, we don’t see this affecting the VoIP market in a big way since VoiceWing never took off as a commercial success; VoiceWing remained a niche product that has little impact on overall Verizon revenue.

Finally, Verizon Wireless announced last week that it is now offering the Network Extender femtocell to enhance indoor wireless coverage. The launch follows similar products launched by Sprint in 2008 and by T-Mobile in 2007. Attached to a broadband Internet connection, the Network Extender acts like a miniature cell tower in the subscriber’s home by providing enhanced coverage of up to 5,000 square feet. At launch, the femtocell costs $249.99 without a contract requirement. There are also no monthly fees associated with using the service and all calls will be deducted at normal calling plan rates.

Next time: Announcements from IT Expo.

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