The home monitoring and control kit offers both home and energy-monitoring equipment with the option to add devices. IMAGE COURTESY OF VERIZON
Verizon’s new Home Monitoring and Control service is being touted by the company as the gateway to a smart home that puts technology in the hands of customers, freeing them to access and control their homes from anywhere.
The service was tested in the state of New Jersey this year and is now ready to be offered to all of Verizon’s FiOS and DSL customers.
The service is focused on customer-monitoring of homes, control of locks, lights, thermostats, appliances and energy use — via a smart phone, PC, FiOS TV and, eventually, a connected tablet. Verizon’s service is strictly designed for self-monitoring and Alberto Canal, director of media relations, told SDM they have nothing to announce yet in regards to third-party central stations.
“Making the smart home a reality is another way Verizon is breaking down barriers between ‘home’ and ‘away’ to support a borderless lifestyle,” said Eric Bruno, vice president of product management for Verizon, in a prepared statement. “In addition, we’re giving our customers the tools to live greener lives and provide valuable information essential to making decisions about their home-energy usage.”
The system installation is advertised as a do-it-yourself solution, with the company providing tutorials and information for installation. However, Verizon does offer the option to have professional installers assist. “We always had a plan of partnering with somebody that could connect to a local installer so that we could serve both the DIY customers and those who want the white glove treatment,” Canal said. In the end, Verizon partnered with InstallerNet, a technology and service company based in North Andover, Mass. that specializes in merchandising and coordinating consumer electronics installation services through a network of independently owned mobile and home electronics installers. If customers don’t want to install the system themselves, Verizon will connect them with Installer Net to find a local installer that can do the job.
Currently, customers can choose from three starter product packages ranging from bare basics to a more comprehensive system. The kits are customizable and customers can add devices “as it suits them,” Canal said. “We’ve tried to make the service as customizable as possible from the installation perspective all the way down to the devices.”
The first package, a home monitoring kit beginning at $69.99, has capabilities for turning lights on and off and accessing networked cameras. The second package, an energy control kit, features energy-monitoring gadgets like the Trane Z wave-enabled thermostat control; special adapters that control appliances; plus a sensor placed on the circuit box to measure electricity use throughout the house. The third package, the home monitoring and control kit, offers both home and energy-monitoring equipment. There are additional devices like Schlage door locks for remote locking and unlocking of doors, PTZ cameras, and window and door sensors to pair with light modules. These and other devices can be added to any of the packages, but the monthly service charge of $9.99 remains the same no matter what package a customer chooses or how many devices are added.
To provide the new service, Verizon is partnering with hardware providers ActionTec, Aeon Labs and SerComm, as well as Trane and Schlage, both businesses of Ingersoll Rand. Application provider Motorola Mobility/4Home developed the platform that connects various devices in the home to the cloud.
Though Verizon does have a sizeable enterprise division, the service is only offered to residential customers. As to what makes this a unique offering for homeowners, Canal noted that the infrastructure in place for Verizon’s FiOS customers makes the addition of monitoring and control features affordable and convenient. “We’re the only company to run fiberoptics through a customer’s home on a mass scale. In a multi-device home, the value of that underlying network is all the more valuable.”
Development of the service will continue at Verizon. “The beauty of this service is it frees a lot of opportunities for value-adds. We are looking for a variety of opportunities down the road,” Canal commented.
“In our U.S. consumer survey, home monitoring and home control services rank high in desirability among both broadband and mobile users,” said Vince Vittore, principal analyst for the Yankee Group. “So high, in fact, that we believe both have become must-have services for all broadband and mobile providers. The fact that Verizon Home Monitoring and Control is built to seamlessly function on the customer’s computer, smartphone and FiOS TV screen, is a significant differentiating factor for this new digital home product.” — By Sabrina Gasulla, Associate Editor.