CES: Verizon readies smart home service for 'nominal' fee

Verizon plans to bring home energy and security service to broadband consumers later this year, which will include a home networking kit and an "affordable" monthly fee.

LAS VEGAS--Verizon at CES is showing off a home energy and security service it expects to roll out later this year priced for the "mass market."

Starting later this quarter, Verizon will start a trial of the Home Monitoring and Control service to its broadband customers in New Jersey, followed by a broader rollout, a company executive said here yesterday.

The company will offer a couple of starter kits, with one focused on home security and the other on energy. An associated monthly fee will be "nominal" and priced for broad usage, said Hassane Bouhia, group manager at Verizon Broadband Solutions.

With the service , consumers can go to Verizon's portal and get information on home energy use and set up different modes, such as "home," "away," or "night." From the TV, smart phone, or PC, people can choose one of the settings to adjust the thermostat, security settings, or other networked appliances, such as lights.

To make it work, people will need to purchase Z-Wave-enabled equipment, such as a wireless thermostat, Z-Wave to Wi-Fi gateway, and a dongle that lets consumers control a plugged-in appliance. The security kit will include a Wi-Fi Webcam.

To get the whole home's electricity use, Verizon will also be selling a clamp that fits onto a home's circuit breaker box. With that installed (typically by a professional electrician), people can view their electricity usage over different periods and, from the portal, access home efficiency tips from sources such as the Department of Energy or the EPA, explained Bougia.

Consumers can purchase many of the hardware components from other companies already but Verizon has tested them and is designing its Web portal to make it easy to configure them, he added. Verizon expects that the energy service will appeal to energy-conscious consumers, but the services will be customizable.

The smart or connected home already appears to be a strong theme here at CES. Although there are a number of smart grid companies trying to bring home energy management to customers through utilities, making these services available through broadband providers could end up being an easier path to market.

 

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