It seems like the days of actual internet outages are coming to an end. Telstra's new Gateway Frontier modem router will give you 4G wireless internet while you wait for your NBN or other wired connection to be installed, and in the case of a wired network outage it'll automatically switch over to its backup 4G to keep you connected.
Telstra's calling it the world's first "all-in-one" modem. Once purchased and plugged in at the user's home, it'll connect to Telstra's 4G network within a couple of minutes, and give them access to the 'net until such time as a proper, wired, higher-speed internet connection is hooked up. That same 4G connection will kick in as a backup if the wired network fails, too, and Telstra says it'll also come in handy for when you're moving house.
Up to 20 wireless devices can be connected simultaneously using the Frontier's fast 802.11ac, 4x4 MIMO Wi-Fi. The router, developed in conjuction with Aussie design consultancy Design + Industry, is also meant to look attractive enough that you'll be happy to keep it out in your living room or a public area rather than hidden away in a cupboard — likely with poor 4G reception.
Importantly, customers will have access to their full, fixed-line broadband quota while they wait for a fixed internet connection to be installed at their premises; that'll be delivered using Telstra's 4G and 4GX network, the same one used by millions of smartphones already.. Speeds will be limited, though, to reduce the risk of network congestion — so no 1000Mbps unlimited downloads.
Customers will be able to use that 4G mobile connection on the Gateway Frontier as a backup or temporary service at speeds of up to 6Mbps download and 1Mbps upload. That's slower than the best possible ADSL2+ connection, and slower than Optus' similar home wireless network solution, but it's only intended as a stopgap solution for Telstra's own ADSL, cable or NBN customers.
It's also worth noting that its 4G connection will be better than some wired connections — ADSL is notoriously bad at extended distances from telephone exchanges, for example. It'll only work on the Telstra mobile network, too, and with a Telstra SIM, so don't think about using a different carrier — there are better solutions if you want to do that.
The Gateway Frontier will set you back $216 outright, if you're looking to upgrade your existing Telstra modem router. As a monthly repayment option on a 24 month plan — presumably bundled with a fixed internet service — it'll be $9 per month. It's out from today, and we really think this is a concept that should take off more widely. [Telstra]