If you are a glass-half-empty person, you’ll view Charter’s announcement that they will shutter their home security and smart home service on February 5th as another reason not to buy into closed-source IoT devices. If you are a glass-half-full person though, you’ll see the cable company’s announcement as a sign that a lot of Zigbee hardware will soon flood the surplus market. Ars Technica reports that after investigation it appears that some of the devices may connect to a standard Zigbee hub after a factory reset, but many others will definitely not.
As you might expect, users were less than thrilled. Especially those that shelled out thousands of dollars on sensors and cameras. This sort of thing might be expected if a company goes out of business, but Charter just doesn’t want to be in the home security business anymore.
Charter acquired the security business when it bought Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016. According to Charter, they stopped marketing the home security service after that. To add insult to injury they are offering a deal to customers by which they can get an Amazon Ring kit with a hub, a range extender, and five devices for “free” if they sign up for one year of Ring monitoring for $340. When a year of monitoring can be had for $100 and a 5-piece Ring set for $199, understandably this has not gone down well. Even a 10-piece set that has the same devices plus an extra motion detector and two extra sensors can be had for only $259.
If you’re a Charter IoT customer and you don’t like that deal, there is the $179 plan from Abode, which is a slightly better proposition. Even then, the yearly monitoring plan only lists for $200 and is actually $100 right now, regardless of your relationship with Spectrum.
We liked the one quote in the article that said: “Zigbee is famously nonstandard as a standard.” We couldn’t help but think of the old adage: “The good thing about standards is there are so many of them.” This remindS us of the fiasco with Best Buy’s smart devices last year. Maybe someone will take pity on these poor users and help them out.