A little more than a year ago, I predicted in an article for GigaOM Pro (subscription required) that telcos and cable providers would start dabbling in energy management before the ball dropped into 2010. The idea was that the service providers could use their networks (fiber, cable, cellular) to connect with smart appliances, plugs, meters and thermostats in homes and create a sort of broadband-enabled smart energy efficient home.
I based the prediction back then on interviews with several startups selling into this market, as well as the broadband players themselves. Well, turns out that I was right…but about a year too early.
Now as we kick off 2011, the broadband-enabled smart energy home has finally made some real headway, which I describe in this post for GigaOM Pro (subscription required).
Milestones indicating that the telco smart energy home is becoming a reality include:
- Verizon’s January launch of its long-discussed smart home and energy management pilot in New Jersey.
- AT&T recent acquisition of 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.
- Telco gear provider Motorola’s recent announcement of its intent to buy up home automation and energy monitoring startup 4Home via its communications subsidiary Motorola Mobility.
Earlier this year Consert, a startup with a home energy product that connects via cellular networks, jumped onto my radar when it announced that it raised $17.7 million from Verizon Ventures (the VC arm of Verizon), phone chip company Qualcomm, utility Constellation Energy and GE Energy Financial Services. And in late 2009 home automation and energy management iControl raised $45 million in funding from cable company Comcast, Intel Capital (VC arm of the chip giant), networking heavyweight Cisco, General Electric and security firm ADT, along with traditional VCs Kleiner Perkins and Charles River Ventures.
Yes, all of these moves are still experimental, but the service providers are clearly on the path of weaving energy management into their overall smart home offerings. Now we’ll see in 2011 if consumers will buy the services.
Read more about why all of these moves are important and what the future of the smart energy home will look like in my latest article for GigaOM Pro (subscription required).
Image courtesy of awoodvine.