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Verizon Hub Phone
Verizon plans to allow users of rival services to use Hub

Across the country, the number of people using traditional landlines for their home phone service is dwindling. Many consumers are finding in the tough economy that home phone service can be disconnected and mobile phones used exclusively.

Shedding the home phone line is something that many consumers find appealing, but the providers of landline phone service are looking for ways to halt the progression to an all-wireless society. One of the ways Verizon is looking to lure people back to using home phones is with home phones that offer some of the capabilities we associate with smartphones.

The Verizon Hub is a home phone that features an internet-connected base that offers users access to V Cast entertainment services, messaging, and email among other features. Those features are common on many mobile phones today, but are new for the home phone. The big catch for the Verizon Hub is that along with features of a smartphone, it also gets some features of smartphone plans. The device costs $199.99 and requires a 2-year contract.

Verizon has announced today that it plans to offer an application store for the Hub, much like the App Store for the iPhone. The Hub app store would open the market up for third-party developers to offer programs for the Hub expanding its usability. One example of possible application for the Hub is Internet radio.

Verizon also says that it is working to remove one of the most restrictive requirements for using the Hub -- that Hub users must be Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon's John Gravel said, "We're in the process of getting rid of that restriction. Why would you limit anyone from using this?"

The bigger issue in analyst's eyes is that the Hub is expensive -- it costs $199 to buy, there is a two-year contract, and the service costs $34.99 per month. In the economy today that sees people shedding home lines altogether to save money, increasing the cost of the landline is going to be a hard sell.

Forrester analyst Charles Golvin said, "It's a tough time to be marketing a device and service like this. The first order challenge is to explain to consumers why this is an improvement over a home phone ... why it's worth paying $35 a month on top of their broadband bill."

Many consumers can access the same services that Verizon is talking up for the Hub via devices already in the home like smartphones and computers. Simply adding these common features to a home phone seems to be of dubious value.

One significant drawback to the Hub is that customers of rival providers like AT&T and Sprint could be prevented from sending and receiving text messages between the Hub and their mobile phones. Verizon is betting that the app store for the device will be enough to draw attention back to the home phone. That is a big bet and one that Verizon is likely to lose.

The device has been on the market since February 1 and Verizon won’t offer firm information on how many have been sold. All Gravel will say is that demand is tracking with expectations.

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What they really need
By mofo3k on 4/16/2009 2:03:36 PM , Rating: 5
What Verizon and those other cell companies should release is a cell phone hub that allows you to dock your cell and use your land line phones to send/receive calls. I can't think of how many times I've left my cell in a different room or floor and couldn't get to it in time.

RE: What they really need
By DCstewieG on 4/16/2009 2:27:30 PM , Rating: 2
RE: What they really need
By Homerboy on 4/16/2009 2:37:22 PM , Rating: 2

I use this at work. I have 1 phone my cell. When I get to work, it connects automatically via BT to his device and I have a normal handset. It can, in turn, alos connect to a land line and either or will ring for you. Brilliant device.

RE: What they really need
By KristopherKubicki on 4/16/2009 5:19:30 PM , Rating: 2
RE: What they really need
By Aloonatic on 4/17/2009 5:33:52 AM , Rating: 2
Personally, I'd like to get rid of my land line (for phone calls only of course) all together. I only have one as I need it to squeeze my internets into my flat through as I can't get cable.

I'm not sure how pricing works in the USA or elsewhere but over here (UK) we pretty much have to pay for "line rental", which is an antiquated charge that you struggle to avoid. I pay £10 a month as I'm with SKY, but I think BT and others charge a little more. Often call ID and voice-mail is included in this charge but you have to have it before you can even start talking about call plans and broadband or dial up internet connections. SKY insist that you have a line for their satellite TV package as it is used to call back to base I think.

I'm never far form my mobile (as it's either in my pocket or charging) and rarely use my inclusive call allowance. Things may be different if I didn't get good call reception or my mobile didn't work too well but I do and it does :)

They don't offer low cost land lines anymore
By the goat on 4/16/2009 1:53:26 PM , Rating: 2
First I will say that device looks stupid.

But what I really want to point out is why the number of land line customers are falling. At my house I have three providers that offer me a land line. But all three only offer a single all in one package that includes unlimited local calls, 1000+ minuets (or unlimited) long distance, callerID, call waiting, etc. All this for the low low price of $35/month.

I have no use for the extra features and would gladly pay $10/month for a phone with limited local calling, no long distance, no callerID, no call waiting, etc. But that plan doesn't exist. So I ended up getting a cellphone for $40/month.

By Moishe on 4/16/2009 2:14:38 PM , Rating: 2
Companies know that you'll choose the lower plan, so they don't offer that plan. Frankly I think it's stupid. I choose to not have a cellphone because I can't get a plan that fit my calling needs, and I'm unwilling to pay money for 4 times what I need.

These companies are losing potential market because they want to rope people into higher prices.

This device actually looks cool (to me), but the price is too high. I'd never buy one.

By Alphafox78 on 4/16/2009 4:18:42 PM , Rating: 2
Comcast has a service for local calls thats $24 a month I think. saw an ad for it on TV.

By AmpedSilence on 4/16/2009 9:15:47 PM , Rating: 2
Verizon does offer this service.

It's $12.99/month, you get three free (unlimited time) local calls, 25 cents a call after that, unlimited free 1-800 numbers, and unlimited incoming.

I've had it in my past two apartments. Its fantastic for sitting on hold so you don't have to spend your cell minutes.

You have to ask for it, its not something the reps willingly offer.

And the market is . . .
By stromgald30 on 4/16/2009 2:04:29 PM , Rating: 2
I think the article hit the main point exactly. With how commonplace cell-phones are these days, land-lines are becoming less common. There's not much of a market for a cell phone with a larger screen and better handset that has to sit at home.

The price makes even less sense. They should make it as an add-on/extra line to existing plans. This way family members could call relatives that don't have cell phones without using minutes. It also consolidates bills, which should attract some customers.

I think if they marketed a smart phone charging dock with a bigger screen, better speakerphone, and a cordless headset, it would have a larger market than this. Especially if that dock could be mounted inside a car and had a broad compatibility base between Palms, Blackberries, etc.

Destined for failure
By aguilpa1 on 4/16/2009 5:22:17 PM , Rating: 2
this has been tried before...., this stuff only works if everyone has the same network and stuff.

another overpriced proprietary gadget destined for failure.

The Hub needs a Web browser.
By Old Man Dotes on 4/16/2009 5:45:25 PM , Rating: 2
It's useless to me without one. An email client that handles IMAP and POP3 would be a plus, as well, but I can use gmail with just a browser. As it sits, this is simply a very expensive cell phone extension.

Landline benefits
By heulenwolf on 4/17/2009 9:26:47 AM , Rating: 2
In 2000, after moving to an apartment in Colorado and waiting several weeks for a telephone tech to come out and flip a switch so that I could have land line service, I canceled the land line and bought a cell phone I could use the same day. There was, of course, a connection fee for the privilege of this waiting, which I luckily didn't have to pay. I haven't ordered land line telephone service since, relying on wireless service. The capability to quickly have a working phone outweighed the obvious mobility benefits of wireless service. The two primary benefits I miss from land line service are:
1) Network powered - when the power goes out in a storm, a standard phone allows you to make phone calls which is especially useful in emergency scenarios. While mobile phones usually work, as well, I find that the networks are often too busy in those scenarios to let calls through due to a spike in call volume.
2) Reliability - In 20 years of using land line phones, I can only remember one oddity in the service. I never experienced a dropped call nor missed messages and found out days later due to unexplained network delays. I experience these service issues roughly every week as a wireless customer.

I seriously doubt the Verizon hub provides advantage #1. It sounds like its a VOIP device. If so, service goegs out when power goes out. Advantage #2 depends on the providers on both ends of the call/message, especially when dealing with wireless. If its a VOIP device, reliability remains an issue.

Loss of Landlines
By jcbond on 4/17/2009 3:44:53 PM , Rating: 2
There are a couple of reasons why I like having landlines available
1. As somebody already mentioned, the phones can be line-powered. In our current home we experience significant outages.
2. Reliability (also already mentioned). Sometimes I work from home, and my work-supplied mobile will get cranky. I've often called customers from my home landline or given it as a backup to call me at if the line drops.
3. It's an avenue for DSL. Right now you can get a (admittedly low speed) broadband connection for under $20 bucks a month with DSL. It keeps Comcast honest... OK, I guess a better to put it is that they can't charge more, provide even crappier service, etc.

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