Verizon launches its VoIP and mobile-bridging 'Hub'

Verizon launched its Hub "family communications command center" today, a desktop touchscreen device endowed with VoIP functions and the ability to share information with multiple wireless handsets.

The Hub is similar in concept and design to the Samsung HomeManager which AT&T announced in September. Both devices offer a broadband-connected 7-inch touchscreen computer that manages all incoming communications and acts as portal to various Web services, and both units also act as a VoIP terminal with an associated cordless handset.

But this is where the two units diverge in functionality.

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The HomeManager is meant to either replace the traditional landline home phone with U-Verse VoIP, or upgrade the landline with the features that come with broadband connectivity. Verizon's Hub voice service is purely VoIP, and it offers the ability to act as a center point for a household with numerous wireless users.

Verizon's Hub

Though Verizon sells the Hub for use with any broadband carrier, its main functions are specially integrated with Verizon Digital Voice and Verizon Wireless exclusive services. For example, Verizon's Chaperone functions, which allow parents to check the location of their children via GPS either by scheduled time or on the fly, can be accessed and updated through the Hub.

Likewise, the Hub's calendaring functions can send out texts to any associated handsets when appointments are approaching, or directions can be sent to the VZ Navigator of linked wireless phones. The Hub can also receive picture messages, or connect to V Cast to watch TV shows or listen to V Cast music.

With a two-year service contract, Verizon sells the Hub for $199.99, a Digital Voice plan costs $34.99 per month, and Chaperone adds $9.99 monthly.

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