Are Optus Pulling A Fast One On 3G?
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Or not so fast as the case may be. It was tipped as “your own private and dedicated 3G coverage signal” but now it seems this service could be closer to a farcical rip off.
Analysts have come out in revolt against the newly launched 3G Home Zone from Optus, which runs on new Femtocell technology, claiming it is a ploy by the telco to force subscribers to inadvertently to pay for their own mobile network upgrades – something that the No. 2 telco should be doing – free of charge.

It’s “your own private and dedicated 3G coverage signal” and will boost indoor  wireless coverage, up to 30 metre range and will deliver better calls, data and broadband services, SingTel owned Optus claim.

The home zone device runs on femtocell technology, widely used in the US, acts as a wireless information gateway and uses the existing internet connection to improve mobile coverage, Optus says.

However, Telsyte telecommunications analyst, Foad Fadaghi, begs to differ, claiming Femtocells are frequently used by poor quality carriers that failed to invest adequately in their networks.

“While there are benefits for users not able to switch providers, I would be worried as a consumer if I cannot get mobile reception in my home or office from a carrier, thus needing to resort to Femtocells,” he warned.

“The real question is why Optus’s network needs these patches to help people use their mobiles in their homes and offices.”

And 3G Home Zone doesn’t come cheap either – it can be purchased outright for $240 or $60 -$180 depending on mobile rate plans, and a monthly payment of $5-$15 although the lower the plan value the pricier it is.

Telstra also agrees with the analysts assertion, with a spokesperson confirming “Femtocells are a means of compensating for poor coverage.”


Optus had  expressed hope of eating into its biggest rivals including Telstra’s fixed line share with the new technology.  

However, its only available in limited stores in Sydney, Wollongong Gold Coast and Brisbane, and is being run on a pilot basis, for now.

Read Optus Mobile ‘3G Zone’ To Bite Telstra? here

“We believe Femtocells are an important way of enhancing the customer experience of the Optus Open Network by acting as a wireless gateway into the home or office,” consumer marketing director Gavin Williams said.