Review: Optus 3G Home Zone
We were a perfect candidate to try the femtocell device because our office is in a known Optus black spot where talking on a mobile is frustrating to say the least.
So were eager to give the Optus 3G Home Zone a try – and we’re happy to say it works.
For users to get the best outcome with the device they firstly need to check a few things.
The first is whether their broadband ifs fast enough to handle the connection and create a wireless 3G signal for up to 12 mobiles in your household or office.
Your broadband connection needs a minimum download speed of at least 1Mbps and an upload speed of at least 512Kbps.
Users can test their broadband speeds here.
And you don’t have to have an Optus broadband connection to use the service. Optus 3G Home Zone works with any broadband service provider.
But it will only work with Optus mobile numbers.
The device, which is slightly smaller than a regular modem/router, needs to be activated through an online portal where we could also nominate the numbers we would be connecting to the Optus network with the device.
Set up took a little while after it was connected to power and to a spare port on our router.
We were warned in the printed set-up instruction that came with the Optus 3G Home Zone that activation and the link to the Optus network could take up to 90 minutes. For us it took about half an hour to activate it through the website.
There were four Optus numbers we enlisted with the 3G Home Zone and the signal strength on the iPhone 4 went up to four bars out of five and the HTC Incredible S had four bars out of four.
So far so good.
When calling we heard three short beeps before the call connected to indicate the call was being passed through the Optus 3G Home Zone.
It was a noticeable improvement for our calls and we could make and receive calls at out desk whereas usually we’d have to walk towards the front of the house or up the driveway to the street to ensure a stronger signal.
We had to actually remind ourselves that a mobile call didn’t require the previous reflex action of having to get up and move outside our any more.
This is ideal for users who are enjoying a value Optus cap plan they’d like to extend to take over their home line as well.
These Optus users have held off ditching the land line because they had patchy reception at home.
Now with the Optus 3G Home Zone those worries can now become a thing of the past especially if you’re locked into a good value plan you’re happy with.
Telstra’s reaction will no doubt be that its Next G network wouldn’t require additional hardware to enhance the signal at home.
The device can also be used for data but chances are the user will be able to use their home broadband’s wi-fi connection.
One thing to keep an eye out for is the data usage generated by the device to strengthen your mobile signal in the home.
With four or more users the Optus 3G Home Zone will use up about 3GB of data so be sure to consider this against your current home broadband situation.
The Optus 3G Home Zone costs $5 a month for users on a $59 cap or greater. Optus customers on $49 caps and below will have to pay $15 a month over 24 months.
For this additional charge, the main user of the household can enjoy unlimited calls to mobile and landlines using the nominated number. For many Optus customers this would still work put cheaper than switching to Telstra.
It would have been nice for more than one number to enjoy the unlimited calls but Optus isn’t offering that option at this stage.
It was a brave move for Optus to release a product like the 3G Home Zone because, in doing so, it is admitting its network does have some black spots.
Optus shouldn’t be criticised for this – it should be praised because it is thinking of the needs of its customers and meeting them.
Loyal Optus customers who enjoy the value of their mobile service can now make even more use of that service in their home can get a huge improvement for a small monthly price.
The money they save by ditching their land line can easily pay for the Optus 3G Home Zone.
Optus 3G Home Zone
Price: From $5 a month over 24 months.
Four stars (out of five)