As Verizon ramps up its new Home Monitoring & Control (HMC) service, it joins a growing list of telecom and broadband providers that are vying to gain a foothold in the home security/automation and energy management market. Verizon’s Z-Wave-enabled platform is available for $9.99 per month, plus the cost of equipment kits that start at $89.99. Devices, such as door locks, lighting modules, door and window sensors, smart thermostats and more, can be purchased a la carte. Dan Flagler, who oversees Verizon’s product development, discusses the offering and this burgeoning market sector.
In which markets is the Home Monitoring & Control [HMC] offering available ?
HMC is currently available to existing Verizon broadband customers, both FiOS and DSL high speed Internet. We are considering extending the offering to non-Verizon broadband users but have not set a timeline for that expansion.
Why has Verizon elected to offer the HMC platform as a do-it-yourself only installation?
We believe that customers are willing and able to install the services themselves to save money and avoid the coordination required to schedule professional assistance. Customers are free to use a handyman or contractor of their choice, or our HMC kits include some marketing materials with information on installers in their area.
In addition, we are exploring the use of technical support services to assist the customer through the installation if they determine that they are not comfortable in the DIY arena. For certain elements of the service, the energy reader, we recommend that customers hire a licensed professional to install the device. If we find greater demand for installation services, or if we add more complex elements to the offer, we may explore additional options in the future.
The current HMC solution does not involve professional monitoring. Does Verizon have plans to offer it, including monitoring for intrusion?
We continue to explore options for expanding into the monitored home security market but have not made any decisions regarding the specific elements of the service.
By offering the wireless thermostat and lighting and appliance modules, plus a free energy reader, is Verizon more focused on energy management and control than the security aspect?
We believe there is a broader market for monitoring, control and energy management, and do not want to be restricted to only those homes that want monitored home security. We will continue to explore options to serve those customers as well in the future.
Telecom and broadband providers in years past have attempted to enter the residential security market without much success. Why is now the right time for these products?
HMC is not a residential security service. We believe that home automation services are a new and evolving market that fits very well with our core Internet services. The proliferation of residential broadband and smartphones has created an environment, which allows these services at much lower costs, and with fewer technical obstacles than in the past.
What are some of the market indicators that has Verizon bullish on home control services?
Our primary research indicates that customers are quite interested in the offerings we brought to market last October. We think the time is ripe for a low cost, self-install service, enabled by the great technology the customers already have in their hands — smartphones — and their in homes, Internet and FiOS TV.
Our model of a low monthly cost, easy installation, no contractual commitment, and a 30-day money-back guarantee on the equipment, is very different from the available offerings that include monitored home security.
How has Verizon prepared to handle customer service-related issues?
Verizon uses technical support vendors that are specially trained to support the unique elements of HMC. The underlying broadband services continue to be supported by our excellent customer service employees.
Many security dealers remain dubious that telecom/broadband entrants will be able to provide a necessary level of customer care. Your thoughts?
We recognize the complexity of the home security market, and have positioned HMC to provide lifestyle management and control, not monitored burglar alarm and perimeter security.