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.


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