Insteon is back, but $40 yearly subscription fees are incoming

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Good news and bad news. Following the insolvency of Insteon, which led to the abrupt shutdown of their servers and bricking of many user systems, the company has now been acquired by a group of passionate Insteon users.

When I say passionate users, Ken Fairbanks, the new CEO worked for SmartLabs between 2004 and 2007 before the acquisition by a private equity group.

The new company, Insteon Technologies, are now working to bring servers back online, which will allow Insteon Hubs to start working. This process has already started, and many users will now be able to use their hubs again.

They have also got the website, email service provider, social accounts and various other essentials online, which will allow the company to start communicating with users and providing support.

Insteon Technologies has confirmed that not all functions are back online, but they are working on restoring them.

Subscription Fees

However, the new owners haven’t bought the company out of the goodness of their hearts. At the very least, they will need to recoup the investment and cover running costs.

I assume hardware sales have flatlined, but it looks like they are working on restarting sales and manufacturing. Therefore, the only solution is to implement a subscription-based service to cover the costs of running all the services. This should allow the company to separate the Insteon Hub services side of the business from sales, which in theory should avoid a repeat of the previous problems.

Insteon plan on implementing a yearly subscription fee of $39.95, or $69.95 for two years.

It looks like the company will roll this out within the next couple of weeks.

Be careful if you don’t plan to pay the subscription fee

One Reddit user posted quite an important PSA regarding these new subscription fees. Until Insteon clarify the long-term plans for Insteon, users don’t know what sort of changes Insteon might push to the Insteon Hubs.

Many, if not most users, use Home Assistant, Homeseer and other third-party services which use local API access to communicate with the hub. It is quite possible that Insteon could push out a firmware update that would disable local API access without a subscription. This seems like they would be shooting themselves in the foot by losing all current customer trust, but I have seen companies do worse.

If you would prefer to avoid the possibility of this, Reddit users are suggesting you should delete all schedules from within the Insteon app, and then block all access l incoming and outgoing traffic from the hub to the Internet. You should be able to do this by finding its IP address and then blocking it within your router. You would also want to ensure the hub has a static IP address, you can do this on the hub itself, or you can normally reserve IPs within the router settings.

You can also try blocking prod.insteon.pubnub.com.

Overall

I don’t use Insteon, so I am unsure how much effect this will have overall. If you are happy to pay the service fee, then all is good.

I assume anyone still using Insteon is either using the PLMS or Home Assistant; anyone else will likely have moved to a new system. For Home Assistant/Homeseer users, it might not necessarily be good news, it depends on how Insteon try and progress the business and if they make changes to how the hubs work.

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