Optus Launches Femtocell Pilot So You Pay To Fix Their Blackspots

If you've ever experienced the frustration of a mobile blackspot at home and you happen to be an Optus customer, the telco has just launched the country's first Femtocell pilot program, giving your phone much-needed coverage in your home via your broadband connection. The catch is that you have to pay for it.

The controversy surrounding customers having to pay for femtocells to boost their coverage at home has raged through the US recently, and now Optus is hoping to address some of its network coverage with the same technology.

Essentially, a Femtocell is a little box that plugs into one of the ports on the back of your router, and gives you mobile coverage within a 30 metre radius for four simultaneous mobile phones.

The Optus device will be available to limited Optus Stores in Sydney, Brisbane, Wollongong and the Gold Coast, and is obviously only available to Optus customers. The pricing of the device varies, depending on the plan you happen to be on, with the cheapest option costing an Optus customer on a $79 or higher mobile plan $60 up front plus $5 a month over 12 months. Prepaid customers can only get the device for $240.

If you need your mobile and the coverage in your home is sketchy, Femtocell technology is all kinds of awesome, although it does seem a bit rich that you have to pay a minimum of $120 on top of your monthly plan.

[Optus Home Zone]



    Will this work for companies that use the Optus network,

    I'm assuming it would, but people like TPG etc.

    I have a friend in a dead-spot. Horrible. If he's home and I ring him, he has to call back on his home phone.

    What a joke! They are advertising this as suitable for "Optus 3G mobile broadband devices". Why would you use one of these, when you would already have wifi in the house (maybe for devices that use 3G and not wifi, but really how many of these are out there).

    And you are paying for the bandwidth already through your ISP. What's the bet they still take the data you download in this method off your monthly quota, essentially double-dipping...

      This seems to be double dipping. You're paying for the device and a connection fee, and you're paying for the data charges as well....

      FFS this is a total FAIL

    Surely you can get that gear on ebay? Or is it tied to the telco? Anyone?

      It uses licensed spectrum and must be configured to specific carrier settings, so doubt you'll be able to purchase one not through a telco

    This is total FAIL! They should be free for people in Blackspots!

    Such an asshole move really. Not only do you need to pay for their service but you also need to pay for a device to deliver the service you've already paid for. Also you then need to pay for the broadband usage to patch up their network.

    Will this work for any Optus users near by, or is it locked to your own devices?

    Also will they charge you for data usage etc while you are connected to it? Effectively meaning that you will be charged for data twice. Once by your ISP and then by Optus.

    Is this good?
    Should i have to pay?
    Should it all count to my downloads?
    Should optus offer this for long term customers?
    Yes (10 years+ here)

    Come on people, how naive are you? You think you don't pay for network expansion through tariffs and monthly charges?
    Mobile is not a public service, its a business.

      Yes, customers already pay for network expansion via tariffs, except now you have to pay extra for a service you are already paying for and they arent providing, and you (could) get double charged for it.

      Its like buying a car, but they didnt give you wheels so you have to pay extra so you can actually drive anywhere.

        Actually it's probably closer to having to pay for parking. One has to pay for parking where there is limited parking, so it (sort of) makes sense that one has to pay for signal where there is limited signal.

        Of course the pricing set is way too high: it should be less than $50 with nothing ongoing - or nothing upfront with a small ongoing cost offset by usage - even a few cents per hour would make the deal a little sweeter.

          Well no .... If it as like parking that you had to pay for it would be more like, You paid for the parking spot but never got to park there so you pay for another spot

    This is absolutely ridiculous asking from Optus. Instead of fixing the black spot problem they'll charge there clients to fix it for them. I work out in Kellyville Ridge and called and filed a complaint because my reception is garbage. Got a response the next day and was told that i am in a blackspot which i already knew, i was in a low part of the area and that cause there is so much construction that it is blocking the signal which is a load of crap because they are only houses not high rise buildings.

    I have found a 3g repeater which in theory works depending on your phone/frequency etc and works for all carriers which is a one time payment, easy to install and low cost but apparently is illegal in oz. Anyone used such a repeater??

      I thought repeaters for mobiles were illegal. In Australia at least.

        yep - repeaters are illegal because they rip signal off the tower to give to you...studies have shown 1 person using a repeater in the home put an equivalent load of 50 users on the tower itself, which can be enough to overload and congest a previously uncongested tower.

        if they catch you using it, under ACMA guidelines it's a $250k fine max. plus jailtime.

        It's ok, at the bottom of that page they have this! -
        [repeaters / boosters are not for use in Australia].

        Ahhh sweet cop outs.

        ...they are, but I'd like to see someone caught for using one. Have been looking at them for maritime use as well. Frankly it's why I stick with Telstra. I've never had an issue with their customer service personally, because I've never had a problem to complain about.

    ....Or I could just go to Telstra when my contract expires in June.


    Regardless of the potential cons/pros of the hardware and pricing models alone - releasing this product is thoroughly bad marketing. Admission of guilt to an inferior network. Other telcos must be celebrating with champagne in the offices today as Optus continues to shoot themselves in the foot. But hey, I suppose if they can put Rhianna in space with penguins then clearly they are experts of budget management.

    On Customer Loyalty...

    Who ever is staying at Optus because of loyalty - dont bother!

    Big business such as Optus use global statistics to strategise their business.
    That said, at the moment there are 2.5 million people around the world jumping to middle class every year.

    I highly doubt big businesses take customer loyalty likely if stats are like that.

    I just borrowed a Telstra iphone and took it home to test. I get 0 to 1 bars on 2g using Optus and 4 bars on Telstra 3g. I did a speed test using ozspeedtest.com and got 3mbps. I can't be arsed going through the steps of getting out of my 12month optus contract that expires at the beginning of July. Now that Telstra is being sensible with its' pricing, they can count on another new customer in July.

    Sounds like a typical move from Optus for Optus customers. Dumb and dumber.

    Honestly, who would be stupid enough to buy this, when you can easily change carrier and have a working service no matter where you are?

    LOL, I can't believe how angry people are at a telco trying to provide a solution for poor reception areas. If you add up the price of a FEMTO plus a 2 year contract with Optus, you'd still be in front over a comparitive plan on Telstra.
    This is obviously designed for people that have an issue indoors due to architectural conditions or general poor coverage.

    Each to their own, but at least they are trying. It's awfully quiet from other telco's who also struggle reception-wise in some areas.

      Wrong on all counts, but thanks for playing.

        Indeed, Telstra are now better value accross ANY PLAN

          Your wrong i live in wauchope nsw and my optus signal is better then telstra and the price is way cheaper they still both are pretty crap signal but my optus is better and cheaper i had telstra before and it drops out all the time my optus does not so atleast optus are trying

    This would make sense IF calls made when connected to the Femtocell were free (or charged at VoIP rates at most) since you're not using Optus' network resources. Then it would be good for people wanting to use their mobile as a landline replacement without needing a high monthly cap.

      Of course you are using Optus resources to make a call. How else are incoming or outgoing calls routed? Through the magic of the interwebs?

        You're not using Optus mobile network resources, i.e. the cell tower spectrum and backhaul to the cell tower, which is where the congestion is. With the Femtocell your call is routed via the internet to an Optus server somewhere, where it is routed back into the regular phone network - just like any VoIP provider - hence my suggestion of VoIP pricing.

          An Optus server somewhere is still part of the network noob. Femtocells just remove the RF component of data/voice calls.

            And that's the costly and congested part of the system. The routing practically comes for free

        As already pointed out, YES! - it is through the magic of the interwebs my lemming friend.

        Optus are soon to go the way of Vodaphone at this rate - not upgrading your network leads to lost customers. With telstra i know im paying a good price for an AWESOME service.

        you pay for what you get

    This is actually a good move by Optus... and being the first in the industry, my applause to Optus..

    Yes, when we talk about wireless networks, coverage is a challenge and it becomes harder/slower for ANY operator to put huge mobile phone towers in urban areas. (These femtocells are 5-10 time LOWER power than even your mobile phone or WIFI). Telstra does a bit better on covreage today because its mobile network operates at a lower frequency but for sure, there are blackspots in Telstra's network as well.

    There's a bigger issue coming up with mobile broadband use. In the mobile networks today, you are sharing your connections with everyone else, and if everyone just sticks to making voice calls, no problem. However, as more and more people buy Smartphones, Tablets and start to use more and data and video services (youtube etc..) everyone will end up with slower and slower speeds.
    The long term answer is to have less people share the limited (spectrum) resource, so making available a more personalised service area where the user needs it the most e.g. in the home is needed. That frees up capacity for everyone else.

    Eventually with femtocells, like in other markets, operators will offer free calls at home and then as more people start to use them, the operator starts to give them away e.g. Japan and US.

    VHA also launched a femtocell service recently, but only for businesses. Telstra can't afford to ignore them forever either.. that's a fact.

    This is an insult to those who have stayed on Optus under false promises that they are improving their network. We live in a new area on Canberra and in 15 months, not once have i been able to come even remotely close to using my 300MB quota. 3G is simply unusable and calls continually drop out.

    I would happily pay twice as much as i do now for a reliable connection that i can actually use. My work phone is on Telstra and it's coverage/performance puts Optus/SingTel to shame.

    Sounds like some kind of government female criminal rehabilitation program.

    FemToCell...Rehabilitating your baby momma. By putting her in a cell for a while.*

    *yes, jail.

    Hey Optus, way to win back customers who have left your shitty network. Let's make customer's pay twice!!!


    I was on the phone recently to optus complaining about the reception at my house, the woman told me I was in a black spot and should probably change to telstra.

    I agree with the solution, but it should be free to those in poor coverage areas as a retention bargaining chip

    If you're with optus and they can't provide decent coverage in your area then you can get out of your contract without paying exit fees. I just did it recently. I was with optus for 11 yrs and hated telstra but I just switched to telstra and I can't believe how great the coverage is! My bills have been cheaper also because telstra don't charge extra for 13 numbers. I never thought I'd say it but telstra is so much better value!!

    This is a good idea. You should pay something for a devise that fixes service if it is not required and you just want it for a luxury. we all know that most coverage issues is due to house construction.

    i get good coverage 5 bars in my house at the front but 1 bar at the back.

    how is this an optus problem? why should i not pay for an optional extra to provide a premium service to me.

    I can not wait to buy one for my house in victoria as my friend in NSW had one when i went to his house last week (optus gave it to him free due to coverage). i got full coverage and clear voice calls.

    People winge too much about things that are not important.

    I hope the customers that leave optus are happy with vodafone coverage or happy getting nothing for their money with the big telecom australia, whoops i mean Telstra.

    go optus

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