Verizon’s LTE SmartHub Goes All-Cellular for Internet and Home Automation, Unike FiOS Quantum

It’s complicated: New SmartHub from Verizon Wireless is an LTE cellular router with Z-Wave home automation capabilities – completely different from the FiOS Quantum gateway powered by Greenwave.


Verizon Wireless just launched SmartHub, a 4G LTE router (hot spot) and home-automation hub that shuns wired broadband for an all-cellular connection. The product is at odds with the Z-Wave-enabled Quantum gateways offered by Verizon FiOS.

It’s complicated: The two Verizon units operate autonomously.

Verizon Wireless SmartHub vs. FiOS Quantum Gateway

About three years ago, Verizon FiOS began work on the Quantum router, featuring ZigBee and Z-Wave home-automation capabilities and powered by Greenwave Systems, a SHaaS (smart home as a service) provider. More than 3 million units are already deployed to FiOS households, but Verizon has yet to unleash their IoT potential. That is expected to happen later this year.

Verizon Wireless, meanwhile, has been working on its own path to smart-home domination. The SmartHub shuns traditional wired broadband like FiOS in favor of cellular service for locations that can’t get traditional broadband.

While Verizon touts the reliability of service, thanks to a built-in back-up battery*, a tiny little footnote reads: “*Battery backup is for your phone service only. Internet and smart home connections are not powered by the backup battery.”

Here's an interesting question: What will the FiOS group call it's smart-home app when Quantum lights up? Better not be “Verizon Home.”

Still, if you believe hardwired Internet services are less dependable than “always-available” cellular service on “America's most reliable network,” then you might opt for SmartHub for reliability’s sake.

For this, you give up the super-fast speeds of a wired connection. Verizon 4G LTE promises downloaded speeds between 5 and 12 Mbps, and upload speeds between 2 and 5 Mbps – a far cry from the double- and triple-digit speeds of wired.

The SmartHub is $200 on its own, or $100 with a two-year contract. Services start at $40 per month for 4GB and $110 for unlimited data (with throttling after 22GB).

Per an online chat representative, currently there are no “bundling” opportunities for existing Verizon Wireless customers.

“You are able to add it to your plan,” the rep says, but “I am not seeing any discounts available at this time for the SmartHub.”

SmartHub IoT Features and Specifications

The SmartHub works with the Verizon Home app for controlling not just the smart-home devices but network functions such as parental controls.

Here's an interesting question: What will the FiOS group call it's smart-home app when Quantum lights up? Better not be “Verizon Home.”

Verizon says users can “connect to over 200 Wi-Fi enabled devices and compatible smart home accessories,” but the company includes in that number “computers, tablets, gaming consoles, eReaders, printers, smart home devices and more.”

Only a handful supported smart-home devices are listed on the site:

  • Honeywell – Lyric Round Wi-Fi Thermostat – Second Generation
  • Nest – Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation
  • Nest Cam Indoor Security Camera
  • Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera
  • Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm

Curiously, Verizon makes no mention of a Z-Wave radio onboard the SmartHub, and neither the chat representative nor PR rep could answer the question of Z-Wave compatibility. 

Yet Verizon’s online list of SmartHub-compatible devices includes several Z-Wave products, including Fibaro sensors, Kwikset locks and Aeon LED bulbs.

Perhaps Z-Wave is enabled through a USB stick? Well, images of the SmartHub don't show a USB slot. We’ve reached out to several Verizon folks to get some clarity. (UPDATE: CE Pro has confirmed – not from Verizon – that there's Z-Wave inside the hub.)

Other features and specs of the SmartHub include:

  • 1.45” Color OLED Display with touch navigation keys for accessing information such as Access data usage and Wi-Fi passwords
  • Secure, guest Wi-Fi connection
  • Parental controls
  • Phone services (keep your phone number)
  • 2,500mAh removable Li-Ion battery (only powers phone service, not Internet and smart-home services)

That's pretty much all they give us — not mention of other radios or protocols supported.

Verizon History and SmartHub Prospects

Verizon has been in and out of the smart-home business. While it couldn't succeed in the DIY market, the SmartHub has better prospects. That's because the earlier home-automation initiative charged an additional $10 per month on top of an existing customer's Verizon FiOS bill. 

While the industry has shown that people are generally unwilling to pay for automation services unless they're attached to professionally monitored home security, Verizon Wireless isn't really charging for home automation.

Instead, it is selling 4G LTE wireless Internet service for the whole home. Home automation is just a sexy benefit because, let's face it, 4G LTE hot spots themselves are not real all that sexy sexy.

Verizon Quietly Moves Home Automation Customers to Nexia; Deploys Quantum Z-Wave Router (2015)

Verizon Working on Home Automation Again (2014)

Verizon Drops DIY Security/Home Automation Initiative (2014)

Motorola Sells Home Automation Group: What Will Verizon Do? (2012)

Verizon Expanding Home Control Services (2011)

Verizon Rolls Out Home Monitoring and Control Solution (2011)

Will Verizon Win the Home Automation Wars? (2011)

Verizon Unveils Details of Home Control System (2010)

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson


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