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Verizon reboots its home monitoring service

Service, first launched in 2011, is no longer offered to new customers; next-gen expected later in 2014

By Matt Hamblen, Computerworld
February 12, 2014 06:51 AM ET

Computerworld - Two years after launching its smart home remote monitoring service amid some fanfare, Verizon Communications stopped offering the service to new customers last October, the company confirmed Tuesday.

Verizon's move is an example of how some smart home and related machine-to-machine systems -- while potentially innovative -- can be complex to implement.

"Verizon's solution was a toe-in-the-water attempt, something that broadband service providers have tried before but have never gone well," said IDC analyst Jonathan Gaw. "Verizon relied on consumers to self-install and self-configure" while other services require technicians to come to the home to install and configure.

Verizon hasn't abandoned the smart home concept and is "revisiting the service to more accurately reflect our vision for the connected home," spokesman Bill Kula said. Verizon hopes to relaunch a new generation of the service sometime later this year.

"We're looking at a wide variety of solutions that will more accurately reflect both consumers' evolving interest in this capability and our vision of the connected home," Kula added.

Current customers will continue to have Verizon's Home Monitoring and Control service and related support from Verizon, and Verizon will honor all product warranties, Kula said.

Verizon won't say how many customers are still using the service, but Kula added: "We have existing customers, so it has sold. But it's fair to say we'd like to see better numbers than we've seen thus far."

The service apparently represented a substantial investment by Verizon, although there's no indication in recent earnings reports of any material loss to the company. Kula added that "there won't be any material financial impact to be reported in earnings."

Verizon promoted Home Monitoring and Control at International CES in January 2012 as means of controlling home thermostats, lights, doors and appliances remotely from an iPod touch, compatible smartphone or FIOS TV app.

The service cost $10 a month in addition to a starter hardware kit costing $130 that provided a gateway device to connect to various modules (some at additional cost) that in turn are connected to surveillance cameras, appliances, lights or thermostats, according to a video report from January 2012 by Eldergadget and current online descriptions from Verizon.

Eldergadget's January 2012 report about Verizon's smart home remote monitoring service.

While Verizon required either a fiber optic FiOS connection or copper wired broadband connection to the home for the Home Monitoring service to function, it worked over Z-Wave wireless technology inside the home. The gateway used with the service combined both Z-Wave with broadband Internet to allow users to monitor and control home systems from smartphones and other devices.

A screen shot of Verizon's smart home remote monitoring service page. Verizon confirmed it has stopped offering the service to new customers.

Verizon had 6.1 million FiOS customers and 9 million wired broadband customers at the end of 2013, according to Verizon's latest earnings report.

Originally published on www.computerworld.com. Click here to read the original story.

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