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Verizon Wireless nudges into home phone, broadband biz

Meet the Verizon 4G LTE Broadband Router with Voice, the wireless carrier's attempt to replace your home phone and Internet connection. But it's a niche target that will likely only appeal to a few specific users.

Verizon Wireless on Wednesday introduced a 4G LTE-powered router for the home, which could potentially replace your ground phone and Internet connection -- as long as you're not a heavy user and an existing wireless customer.

The router is made by Novatel Wireless. Verizon Wireless

The company's Verizon 4G LTE Broadband Router with Voice is nothing if not straightforward, and does exactly what its name implies. Rather than a home cable or DSL connection, customers can use the LTE device to power their home Wi-Fi network, which can connect 10 devices simultaneously. It also includes a jack for a home phone and three Ethernet ports.

The router is part of Verizon Wireless's push to expand its portfolio and utilize its 4G LTE network in more ways beyond a simple smartphone. The speedier connection makes it possible for consumers to conceivably drop their home Internet lines for the comparably fast LTE network, but the data restrictions mean heavy and even moderate Internet users wouldn't consider this an option.

The product also has some restrictions that narrow an already limited number of potential customers. The device is intended to work with a Verizon Wireless "Share Everything" plan, further limiting the amount of data you can tap into. For instance, if your Verizon data plan allows for 2 gigabytes, then both your phone and the router would draw from that same bucket.

The phone portion uses the older 1X network and offers unlimited minutes.

It's a bit odd that Verizon Wireless is marketing a product that essentially competes with Verizon's own FiOS service, but given the restrictions, it's clear there's little threat of cannibalization. Still, Verizon Wireless believes there's interest for such a device, which could target small business owners in need of a portable router and dedicated phone line, customers that use minimal amounts of data, or cord-cutters that are looking to go back to a home phone line.

There's a voice-only option that cost $20 on top of your smartphone plan. The voice-and-data plan costs $30 a month.

The router is made by Novatel Wireless, which is best known for its mobile hot spot. It even shares the same digital user interface as a hot spot, but is bulked up with ethernet and phone ports. The device costs $30 with a voice and data bundle, or $50 with just voice or data, and requires a two-year contract. Verizon is holding a promotion and is giving away the device for free through the end of the month if a customer signs up for both voice and data.

The full retail price is $200.

Like traditional home phone service, the router has a battery that will keep the phone alive even if power goes out. Verizon, however, didn't have information on how long the battery lasted.

The device is on sale today.