Optus Femtocell Trial Could Improve Your Rubbish 3G Reception At Home

One of the most frustrating aspects of owning a mobile is discovering that the reception around your house is poor or non-existent. Optus customers facing that challenge can potentially improve their performance with the 3G Home Zone, a 'femtocell' which plugs into your home broadband connection to boost 3G signal around your home.

Once you've set it up, you can share the service with up to 12 Optus devices (either mobile phones or mobile broadband dongles). That means your mobile will still work to receive and send calls, but can make use of your wired home broadband if signal strength from the 3G network itself is poor.

It isn't exactly cheap; buying the device outright costs $240, or you can purchase it for semi-subsidised rates if you're signed up to a contract plan. (In an earlier version of this post, I assumed the contract plans involved an up-front payment, but that isn't the case.)

Right now, the option is only available through a handful of Optus stores in Sydney, Wollongong, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast (the full list is at the link below). Optus is treating the current rollout as a trial, though I'd expect it to become more widely available in the future. You also need to have a home broadband connection with a minimum speed of 128Kbps -- something to bear in mind if you regularly get shaped below that.

Would something like this improve your home mobile phone experience? Tell us in the comments.

Optus


Comments

    Why not just use your home's wireless network with your phone?
    Seems a bit redundant to me

      +1.

      The only reason you need 3G reception is for data - GSM still works just fine for voice. WiFi is a cheaper, faster and more secure way to share an Internet connection, and if you're at home that's the connection you're going to want to use anyway.

    I hope Vodafone also have this thing.

    AND IN NO WAY I WILL BE PAYING FOR IT
    It is their responsibility to provide satisfactory service, and it does not make sense for us to pay more to receive service

      http://vodafone.com.au/expand - aimed at corporate/business users currently, however.

      The best way to provide satisfactory service to all households is to install a repeater cell on each house; even then, there's no guarantees it will penetrate the walls, depending on their material. The company won't do this because it is not cost effective. Households wouldn't agree to it for fear of melting their baby's face off.

      I like to think of this as an option for people in buildings that otherwise hinder regular mobile phone transmissions.

      Of course, I'm considering this from an inner urban perspective; I can understand that outer suburbs or designated "rural" areas suffering from poor coverage will consider this a patchwork solution.

    Is there any info on the amount of data this would use on an ongoing basis?

    Thinking of it for my parents as they are in a bad reception area, but their net plan does not have a huge allowance.

    So YOU pay for the device and presumably YOUR data is used on YOUR broadband connection to fill in holes on THEIR service!
    Can I start up a VMNO that just sells these? Seems to be all cream, no cost! Aim it at the Retiree sector who never leave the house anyway?

    Also:
    "$15 a month for 12 months, which at $360 is more expensive than simply buying it"
    You think that'll stop people?
    I received a rent company's junk mail this week proudly advertising an xbox 360 for ONLY $29.95/week...
    My first thought was, "that's 10 weeks saving until you could buy the whole thing!"
    My fiancee's best friend rented a TV last year at $130/month for 12 months... The TV was worth $1000!
    When I found out how much she was paying I lost all respect for her intelligence!
    (she already had a TV! This was just bigger. She also has a permanent full-time job and coulda bought on an Interest free deal. Paying $130/month would have had it paid off in 8 months!)

    I think you got your pricing wrong. I think you pay upfront OR monthly, not both.

      Yep, you're right. D'oh! Will fix now.

    The data used from your home broadband is neglible unless you choose to use your FEMTO to download 3G data at home - which is pointless if you already have a home WIFI connection.
    And sure GSM reception is fine for calls, but what if the blackspot is for both frequencies? This is a solution for those with zero to poor call access, not for those that have the occasional dropout.
    And for those whinging about the solution? LOL, Optus didn't tell you to build a double-brick house with aluminium roofing did they?

      Agreed.. this is one situation where Optus cannot be held responsible.
      If you live in a "Faraday Cage" this would be a good investment.

    Or you could just bite the bullet and go with Telstra ;) I'm not a fan of them, but haven't had a problem with 3g in my home since (not that I need it since I am from the future and have wifi)

    This is ridiculous.

    For one, if the network is rubbish in the first place why be with them?

    Second, they are off loading the costs of fixing it to the consumer by band-aiding the actual problem - see point 1.

    Thirdly, its great having competition in the market place, but after my recent experience with V******E, I for one won't take anything less than Telstra's network. For that matter, your doing yourself an injustice by even having smart phone technology unless your on that network - have you done a you-tube test? Wow.

    It does go to show, that despite the bagging out the Big T usually gets here is a prime example as to why we pay a little bit more than the rest of the market, and it's worth it so i don't have another radioactive device in my house.

      Its really funny to read unplanned outbursts. @ Moderator, feel free to delete i can't login to my account haha

    I live in poor recption area for all other than Telstra but they are rotten to deal with

    retransmitters are unlawful in Australia
    otherwise I would have used a solution several years ago they are avaiable ex USA
    Telephones are a closed shop if you need good recption all the time and we look after two great grandmas and 4 grandchildren
    Face facts and hope that Voda/ OPtus will improve
    coverage but the scale of WA is uneconmic

    THis one could be a good idea for some of you once adapted for a mobile phone:
    USB adaptors & DIY antenna = "Poor Man's WiFi"
    http://www.usbwifi.orconhosting.net.nz/
    CB

    Optus Femto Cell is not living up to expectations. There are 5000 Femto's been sold and 4000 faults reported in the first month of launch to the public. They have even changed the supplier of the Femto Cell. Customers connecting through the Femto are experiencing contestant call dropouts. Hopefully Optus will fix yet another failed launch soon

    Optus is a totally rubbish organisation. I wish they would go back to Singapore, where they can offer Singaporeans rubbish service. Singtel wouldn't get away with offering this level of c**p service in Singapore, do they think that Australians are inferior ? They must do foisting this c**p onto us. Singapore is meant to be a service oriented country, yet this firm is little better than Vodafone.

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