EchoStar Eyes Q2 Retail Launch For ‘SAGE’

Also Mulling MVPD Partnerships For New Smart Home Platform
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Las  Vegas -- International CES -- EchoStar formally launched SAGE here this week, showing off a platform that is anchored by a TV-connected set-top-like device, called the SAGE Hub, apps for Android and iOS devices, and a mix of wirelessly-connected components elements that will let consumers monitor and use their lighting, cameras, locks, cameras and thermostats remotely.

One way EchoStar will try to differentiate is through the SAGE Hub, a Linux-powered device that lets users manage the system via the TV while still watching their shows through a scaled down video window. The device accomplishes this by securely passing through the pay-TV signal through an HDMI cable that links the SAGE Hub to the set-top box. Comcast recently integrated its Xfinity Home product with the TV, though that application is currently limited to customers who are on the MSO’s X1 platform.

Among other features, the SAGE mobile app will support  a feature called “My Local 911” that's designed to ensure that security alerts are patched through to law enforcement authorities that are tied to the customer’s home address rather than basing it on the physical location of the user’s mobile device.  

EchoStar officials said the company is still determining SAGE’s retail pricing and which components will be included in the starter pack. SAGE is designed to be easy enough for self-installs, but will offer a professional installation option.

David Lett, EchoStar’s VP of engineering, said SAGE will offer two primary tiering options – those that includes the equipment alongside a monthly fee, and a “self-monitored” option whereby customers purchase the equipment but won’t pay a recurring monthly fee.

The plan is “to challenge the marketplace with a very affordable price,” Lett said.

Retail will be SAGE’s primary focus, where it will match up with services such as PEQ, a service from SmartHome Ventures that is powered by Icontrol’s platform, which relies on a customized version of Android. EchoStar is also open to partnering with cable operators and other types of MVPDs, but has not announced any deals. Of course, the most obvious candidate for a such a partnership play is EchoStar corporate cousin Dish Network.

If EchoStar pursues the MVPD path, it will lock horns with Icontrol, which is already working with Comcast, Bright House Networks, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications, among others. Verizon Communications and AT&T have also launched their own home security/monitoring platforms.

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