Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week
Home  /  geekspeak  /  Femtocell To The Rescue?

Femtocell To The Rescue?

Tags : 

Optus recently launched a new product offering called the “3G Home Zone” to the market. It’s a small, router-like device that acts as a base station for your mobile phone signal within your home, tethered to an existing broadband service. So if you’re in an area with poor Optus reception, or the physical characteristics of your home make mobile reception a problem, the 3G Home Zone product will boost that by using your existing broadband service to bridge the gap.

The 3G Home Zone contains what’s known as a femtocell; a device designed to bridge the gap between fixed line (ADSL or Cable broadband, in other words) and mobile services. Optus isn’t the only femtocell carrier on the market; Vodafone have a similar offering, but at this stage it’s only open to business customers rather than consumers.

The prospect of improving your home mobile (both 3G broadband and call) quality is an appealing one, but there are some catches. The 3G Home Zone is offered on a 24 month contract term, which is a very long time in the life of mobile devices. There’s an associated cost as well; if you’re on a $59 or better tariff with Optus the 3G Home Zone costs $5 per month, while those on lower tariffs will pay $15 per month. That extra payment isn’t without some additional compensation, as it also comes with unlimited national calls bundled in with the 3G Home Zone femtocell, but only for a single Optus mobile handset; you can nominate up to 12 connected Optus phones, but only one of them will get free calls. Given the number of plans that come with either stupendously large caps or unlimited calls anyway, that’s not much of a deal.

The other trap is the data one. A femtocell works by leveraging an additional data connection; in this case it’s your home broadband. You’ll need a minimum speed of around 1Mbps for it to work at all, and all the time it is working, it’s also chewing through your data allocation from your ISP. Surprisingly, even if you’re with Optus for home broadband, they’ll still count the 3G Home Zone’s data usage against your data cap. In other words, you’re using your money and your broadband to supplement Optus’ network coverage. Optus has stated that they’ll continue to work to improve the network overall, and that femtocells are a solution in small locations and where home construction impedes any mobile signal. There’s perhaps a market there, but I can’t help but think that the carriers offering femtocells need to make them more appealing to end customers, either by lowering pricing — as you’ll still be using their services and generating revenue anyway — or offering better bundled terms.

Share

Recent News

Popular social media destination Facebook made worldwide headlines recently, and not for the kinds of reasons that Facebook might want to be noticed. That’s because for a roughly 12 hour period, access not just to Facebook, but also Instagram and Whatsapp — all services owned and operated by Facebook — consumers worldwide had issues connecting… More 

There’s a well-known test that taxi drivers in London have to sit, called “The Knowledge”, that can take years to pass, detailing just about every street in the UK’s very disorganised capital road system. It’s tough learning that many roads, although it may have side benefits, with some studies suggesting that London black cab drivers… More 

Not that long ago, Apple surprised everyone by updating its line of Mac Mini computers. The Mac Mini isn’t like any other Mac that Apple sells. Where much of its output is in laptops, or the 2-in-1 style iMac computers, the Mac Mini is instead a “headless” computer — a fancy way of saying that… More 

There’s been a lot of speculation around foldable phones in the past 12 months, fuelled by the hype from the manufacturers busy producing devices that can fold from phone to tablet and back again — or even crazier concepts, like phones that become slap bands when you place them around your wrist. That latter idea… More