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Optus launches '3G at home' femtocell

Australia yawns

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Optus has launched Australia’s first consumer femtocell service to a chorus of shrugs and yawns.

Australians with a fixed broadband connection can now use that service to connect 3G devices with the device, marketed as Optus 3G Home Zone, ensuring that they can "get five bars" of 3G coverage in their homes.

With the device costing between $60 and $240 depending on the customer's contract type, analysts have accused Optus of making customers pay extra for 3G coverage rather than improving its network. Foad Fadaghi of Telsyte called the offering a "patch" for inadequate coverage.

From that point of view, the value proposition looks odd: an existing 3G customer is offered the chance to pay extra so as to stay connected to the most expensive available service, with the lowest data allowances. The customer's fixed connection, meanwhile, becomes nothing more than a means for the femtocell to log into the Optus network.

The alternative, of course, is for the end user to let their iPhones or Android devices switch to the home WiFi connection.

Vodafone had led femtocell deployment in Australia with a business-only offering. Telstra has said it has no interest in the technology. ®

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