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Updated: Verizon Hub is Not a Femtocell

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verizon-hub-application-screenh4webUpdated: Okay guys I screwed up big time here and combined Verizon’s Hub product with its Network Extender product. So the simple reason this doesn’t look like a femtocell is because it isn’t. Thanks for those who quickly pointed this out. I must have been thinking of this device.

Today, Verizon Wireless (s VZ) unveiled more details about its Verizon Hub, a femtocell device and VoIP phone service that goes beyond boosting reception and acts as some kind of home command center. Most femtocells have been advertised as tiny cell towers for the home, used to improve cellular reception indoors, and they offer a way for carriers to get traffic off their wireless networks by using the customer’s wireline broadband as the backhaul. Verizon’s focuses more on entertainment and information features.

To see if you are a good candidate for Verizon’s new femtocell command center product ask yourself: “Do I want to watch National Geographic Channel content on a 7-inch digital photo frame attached to a handset?” If you said yes, and want to pay $35 a month for that and the privilege of watching E!, getting traffic reports and making unlimited voice calls over your current broadband line, then the Verizon Hub service might be for you.

But contrary to the first reports, it’s gonna cost you. The hub will set you back $249.99 (there’s a $50 rebate). It’s $34.99 a month for the hub service plan, and $35-$60 for broadband or DSL. and the cost of your mobile plan. If you’re considering it because you can’t get mobile service inside your house, then it’s probably cheaper just to change your carrier. Other femotcell Hub-like products on offer so far include Sprint’s (s S) Airave service, which requires a $99 device and a $15 subscription fee ($4.99 for “enhanced coverage” and $9.99 for voice), and [email protected], which allows you to use Wi-Fi instead of the cell network inside your home for $9.99 per month.

However, for those who have some money to burn and aren’t after the signal-boosting benefits, this product might be just the thing for a family web center in the kitchen. Mom or dad can use the hub in lieu of the Internet or TV to get weather, traffic and stalk the kids with Verizon’s Chaperone cell phone tracking service. Some caveats though: this doesn’t appear to work with 802.11n, which is the latest and fastest Wi-Fi variant, it doesn’t give unfettered access to the Internet and it has pretty limited memory options (128 MB of RAM) for storing addresses, downloads and those family photos you can receive from cell phones using the hub.

15 Responses to “Updated: Verizon Hub is Not a Femtocell”

  1. Stacey Higginbotham

    OMReader, the intent isn’t to insult the reader, but rather provide transparency. I screwed up, and when we screw up, we use a strikethru to make clear exactly what we got wrong — and leave in what we got right. I hope some people still find the information such as the Hub’s available memory and inability to connect to an 802.11n network useful — despite the initial premise of the post being wrong.

  2. Seems like this correction on a product should have warranted more than a redline? I think it’s insulting to GigaOm to reissue a product evalution by simply erasing major faulty assumptions in the initial evaluation. And, kind of insulting to the reader to be told this remnant is still worth reading.

  3. Calema Perosa

    Hi, I tried the Verizon hub in a store today. It was actually a good experience. Femtocell notwithstanding, I was able to search for local movies, view trailers, send directions to my cellphone and use the phone (great speakerphone quality) as well as the advanced features.

    Being a busy mom, this phone is useful as it centralizes all my activity on my kitchen counter. I was also told (but have not tried) the online web portal for the service. So maybe I could be at work, and leave a post it note on the phone saying I’ll be delayed or dinner is in the fridge. Now that’s convergence!

    To summarize, I think there is some untapped value here. It runs laps around my chumby for sure. I dont know if it has news headlines or customizable widgets. It would be cool if it supported a standard widget framework like Widgetbox(??).

    Very bold of Verizon to innovate in this tough times. And Stacey, no worries about the snafu about the femto vs. non femto, this is a blog after all, not a *fine* manual :)

  4. mistakes like this make your reporting below par….my recommendation to you is that if you want to be a good blogger then read the facts and try out the product before you write your opinion on it. As we say in the technical community RTFM

  5. Flimflamaroo

    One slight, well major, error with that story- as far as I can tell the Hub is quite separate from the ‘Network Extender’ femtocell they launched around the same time a couple of weeks back…

    The product release for the Hub make no mention of a CDMA chip, bluetooth or 802.11 anything -its a jazzed up fixed VoIP handset with a limited internet browser. Integration with Verizon services and wireless handsets occurs through wide area network (WAN) not the LAN e.g. by sending an MMS or logging onto shared web services. It does however seem to require a wireless router to operate.. not sure how that fits in.

    The hub and the extender should have been integrated into one product (which might have some shot at creating that seamless connectivity thing and building a market) but unless you know otherwise they weren’t, go figure..

    Anyone figure out why its VZW rather than VZ offerring it? my only thought is that the wireless side has a larger operational footprint and it can cream off some of AT&T’s fixed line telco clients as well as Verizon Comm’s.

  6. David R.

    The Verizon Hub is in no way, shape or form a femtocell. A femtocell is a small cellular base station that broadcasts using a CDMA or GSM signal. The Verizon Hub uses Wi-Fi, making it more akin to the T-Mobile [email protected] The benefits of a femtocell consist almost entirely of better indoors cell phone coverage. The Verizon Hub does nothing to boost cell phone coverage.

  7. eatswedishfish

    I’m sure the wireless carrier’s legal teams are all set to sue the broadband carrier if their femtocell traffic is being disrupted. Look at the heat the cablecos (Comcast, Cox) are receiving due to their bandwidth management practices. This is the new broadband stimulus package! :)

  8. Andy Freeman

    Are any of these femtocells for folks who get their broadband from one carrier and their cell service from a different carrier?

    I ask because I’d be surprised if AT&T DSL (for example) provided decent bandwidth for a Verizon femtocell without some money changing hands.

    Yes, the broadband provider can figure out that it’s being used for a competitor’s femtocell; it just looks for traffic going to/from the relevant IPs.

  9. You would think the wireless carriers would not be charging customers a monthly fee, seeing that this moves some of their wireless traffic off their cell towers and improves their customer’s experience! It is fine to charge for DSL or other value added services (if provided), but to add a monthly service fee when you are already being charged for mobile services, just doesn’t sound like a solid business plan.