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Summary:

Verizon’s long-rumored push into the smart energy home is, finally, on its way. Well, a trial version is. The phone company said today that starting in January it will conduct a home monitoring and control pilot program in homes in New Jersey that will include energy management.

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Updated. Verizon’s long-rumored push into the smart energy home is, finally, on its way. Well, a trial version is. The phone company said today that starting in January it will conduct a home monitoring and control pilot program in homes in New Jersey that will include an energy reading device, a smart thermostat, smart appliance control devices, and a smart power strip, among other applications.

The pilot program, which Verizon refers to as the connected home (see video below), will be focused on what broadband can bring to the home in general, not just energy, and will also include security applications, like remotely locking doors and windows and viewing video cameras in the home from cell phones. Verizon has long shown interest in dabbling in the connected, smart home, and previously said this type of pilot would be available in 2009. Looks like 2011 is now the year it will happen.

Verizon didn’t release many details of the pilot program (like the size of program), and I’m waiting to hear back on more technical details. But Verizon did say that the connected home pilot would be available via its FiOS fiber network (FiOS is widely available in N.J.) and that users will be able to connect to their homes remotely via cell phones. Verizon has also partnered on a 3G-based home energy venture, called Consert, but no word yet on whether Consert will be involved in the connected home pilot. Update: A Verizon spokesperson says the service will be available via FiOS, as well as DSL, but won’t depend on Verizon’s cellular network. The pilot project will also only involve only “two dozen homes.”

I also don’t have many details at this point on which third-party vendors will be involved in this pilot, and who will make the energy reader, connected software and mobile apps. However, I would bet that Verizon has teamed up with Motorola’s recently-acquired 4Home, given Verizon has worked with and invested in the firm. Update: A Verizon spokesperson confirmed with me that it will be working with Motorola’s 4Home, as well as Ingersoll-Rand for the security applications.

It makes sense for Verizon to start moving on this now. Earlier this month, AT&T announced it had acquired Xanboo, a decade-old firm that was one of the original home automation players and enables home owners to monitor security, energy consumption, and digital media across devices.

Even though Verizon has finally moved on the smart energy home, don’t expect a massive commercial rollout of this product any time soon. Phone companies are as slow as molasses. Update: Verizon says this will be rolled out commercially in 2011, in other areas that have FiOS deployed.

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  1. The SMA market (Security, Monitoring, Automation) is probably the next frontier for Telcos & MSOs beyond providing the traditional Triple Play (Voice, Data, Video). For example in addition to AT&T and Verizon – Comcast has launched the Xfinity Home Security. And they are invested in 4Home competitor – iControl Networks. ADT, of course needs to get their act together or start partnering.

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