ViewQwest offers 'smart home' set-ups with fibre broadband plans

The Ubiquiti UniFi cameras pipe live videos of your home to your computer (left) or smartphone via an app. The Belkin WeMo Switch allows conventional appliances plugged to it to be controlled wirelessly, also via an app (right).
The Ubiquiti UniFi cameras pipe live videos of your home to your computer (above) or smartphone via an app. The Belkin WeMo Switch allows conventional appliances plugged to it to be controlled wirelessly, also via an app.ST PHOTOS: IRENE THAM
The Ubiquiti UniFi cameras pipe live videos of your home to your computer (left) or smartphone via an app. The Belkin WeMo Switch allows conventional appliances plugged to it to be controlled wirelessly, also via an app (right).
The Ubiquiti UniFi cameras pipe live videos of your home to your computer or smartphone via an app. The Belkin WeMo Switch allows conventional appliances plugged to it to be controlled wirelessly, also via an app (above).ST PHOTOS: IRENE THAM

Broadband provider to set up smart homes free with fibre subscription

Using your voice to switch on the lights or the TV set at home, or opening the front gate remotely from a smartphone app, is no longer expensive or a hassle to set up.

Such "smart home" set-ups now come with standard fibre broadband subscriptions from local service provider ViewQwest, as it makes a play for the home automation market here.

ViewQwest will help home owners set up their smart homes for free when they buy a fibre broadband line, which starts from $65 a month for a 1Gbps plan.

It is also selling smart home devices that are now not on sale here, or are not being shipped to Singapore from e-retailers such as Amazon.

One example is the Amazon Echo, which allows lights and television sets to be switched on or off with a voice command.

SIMPLICITY OF A SMART HOME

I cannot imagine having to figure things out myself. It is like Jarvis from the movie Ironman.

TEACHER KELVIN SU, 25, who is looking to automate some electronic appliance functions at his new flat in Punggol

Mr Vignesa Moorthy, chief executive officer of ViewQwest, sees the effort as a "natural extension" of its current fibre broadband business.

"There is a new breed of smart home products that you can remotely control over the Internet. These devices also work best when they work together (over) a high-speed Internet connection," he said.

The devices include the Amazon Echo, as well as the Philips Hue lighting system and Ubiquiti UniFi surveillance cameras - all of which ViewQwest is selling.

It is also selling the Belkin WeMo Switch that allows any conventional appliance, including a lamp or fan, plugged to it to be controlled via a smartphone app.

"The market is fragmented. There is no one manufacturer for everything. So how do you bring these devices together?" said Mr Moorthy.

Installation requires a level of technical know-how and is, so far, limited to hobbyists. Here is where ViewQwest hopes to come in. "We want to be an early player in this greenfield business," he said.

Central to its home automation drive is assigning a fixed Internet protocol (IP) address to every fibre broadband customer. This is not the usual practice of traditional broadband service providers, which assign home users IP addresses that change randomly.

ViewQwest is also talking to property developers to install smart home devices and sensors in new properties to, say, alert security guards of gas leaks in any unit. Mr Moorthy declined to provide details.

Teacher Kelvin Su, 25, said he likes the idea of going to just one service provider for help on any Internet or smart home installations. He is looking to automate some electronic appliance functions at his new flat in Punggol.

"I cannot imagine having to figure things out myself," said Mr Su, who is a fan of Amazon Echo. "It is like Jarvis from the movie Ironman."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2015, with the headline 'ViewQwest makes play for market to automate homes'. Print Edition | Subscribe