Optus launches its femtocell future

Today Optus launches a new home-based femtocell product for mobile users. The aim is clearly to lure more users away from home phones on competing networks.

Femtocells are wireless, low-power base stations that sit in your home or office, and carry calls across your broadband internet connection. You get five-bar phone coverage and the network provider gets to offload some traffic off their wireless network.

Today Optus announces a new femtocell service, to be launched on 31 July. For an extra $5 per month, users on a $59 mobile phone cap or $15 on $49 or below will receive the femtocell device and unlimited standard national and mobile calls from home.

In this week’s Twisted Wire I talk to Gavin Williams, consumer marketing director at Optus, about the new service. He says Optus’ trials have shown that consumers see this as an opportunity to get rid of their fixed-line service, although you still need the landline connection, of course, for your broadband access.

Jason Leung, director of Wireless Access at Alcatel-Lucent Asia Pacific, says femtocells don’t just offer better quality calls for users and a chance to offload some traffic for network operators, there’s also an opportunity for many value-added services. So this could be the first step in an interesting product road map. He points to some examples in this week’s program.

I also ask Williams what he thinks about the assertion from Telstra’s Hugh Bradlow, made on last week’s Twisted Wire, that femtocells are just an excuse for companies that can’t offer adequate network coverage in their own right.

First published by ZDNet

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