Or why you should buy products that support an open architecture. Smart homes will turn dumb overnight as Charter kills security service. The end of service date is February 5th, so you have a little more than 2 weeks, if you’re a customer, to find an alternative.
Charter is also known as Spectrum cable.
The impending shutdown and customers’ anger at Charter—a cable company also known by the brand name “Spectrum”—has been widely reported over the past month. Over the years, some customers have spent large sums on products that will no longer work.
Refunds? Don’t expect any.
So open standards… Charter uses Zigbee communication. Why doesn’t that count as open? Why not connect Charter devices to another Zigbee hub? Turns out, Zigbee isn’t as open as one might think.
Why can’t Charter customers connect their security devices to a Zigbee-enabled smart-home hub or use them with another alarm-monitoring service that supports Zigbee? One user on DSLReports pointed out that years ago, Spectrum devices “were firmware coded to prevent them from being seen and usable within the normal universe of Zigbee devices.” But could Charter issue a software update that lets these products work with other Zigbee systems?
We haven’t gotten a definitive answer, but it seems that a Zigbee hub alone isn’t enough to ensure that Charter’s security products work with alarm-monitoring systems offered by other vendors.
This isn’t just a Charter/Spectrum issue; it is part and parcel of a lot of Zigbee infrastructure. The Zigbee Alliance (the standard-setting body) has a “new initiative” called the All Hubs Initiative to solve what is an outstanding problem.
[Ars IT Editor Sean] Gallagher also noted that “Zigbee is famously nonstandard as a standard.”
So these companies get to advertise that they are using an open standard, and get all the monopolistic benefits of having proprietary design. I keep hearing the phrase Caveat Emptor in the back of my head while typing this. Oh, and don’t believe the marketing hype. Ever.