Optus is hoping to solve a broadband bugbear of renters and regional Australians with the launch of a new Wi-Fi modem powered by its 4G Plus network.
Designed as an "out-of-the box" solution for those who move regularly and don't want the hassle of continuously connecting and disconnecting their service, the Home Wireless Broadband modem can also be used by those who aren't in an area served by reliable broadband.
As Australians debate the merits of 100Mbps speeds and wait for their suburb to appear on NBN's rollout map, there are still plenty of internet users who negotiate the vagaries of unreliable broadband on a daily basis.
For people unable to set up a permanent fixed broadband connection, the solution often comes in the form of tethering to a smartphone or using a Wi-Fi dongle. But the likes of Optus and Telstra currently only offer caps up to 12GB and 15GB respectively for mobile broadband plans using these dongles.
Optus is hoping to target this captive market of renters, regional Australians and those without reliable broadband by giving them another option aside from tethering and mobile hotspots.
At AU$70 per month for 50GB, the Home Wireless Broadband offers more data than a standard mobile hotspot, positioning it as a genuine alternative to a fixed home broadband connection. Users can also boost the data allowance to 60GB for an extra AU$10, but there is a caveat: once you've used your 60GB cap your speeds will be shaped to 256Kbps.
According to Optus' managing director of marketing and product, Vicki Brady, setting up the Home Wireless Broadband modem is as simple as activating a SIM. Once the SIM is in your modem you'll get access to Optus' "biggest wireless data inclusion ever offered" on its 4G Plus network.
"For a big group of customers, getting a timely and decent internet connection is a real challenge," she said. "Aussie renters, who move home frequently, find it particularly frustrating to disconnect and reconnect each time, often waiting several days or weeks before they can access the internet.
"Optus' Home Wireless Broadband offers a simple plug-and-play solution so customers wait minutes, not weeks, to log onto the World Wide Web once a SIM is activated."There are short- and long-term plans available, ranging from month-to-month up to a 24 month contract period, and users will be able to take the modem with them if they move, without getting a technician to reconnect.
However, you'll still need to be in an area where Home Wireless Broadband is available. A spokesperson for Optus said "coverage availability varies depending on a customer's location, and whether they meet our Service Qualification check."
The plans work out to AU$70 per month across the board for 50GB of data. The month-to-month plan requires an upfront charge of $240 to pay off the Huawei E5186 Wi-Fi Modem, while the 12-month plan adds an additional AU$10 per month for the modem repayment. The 24-month plan is repayment free.
Full details on plan breakdowns and coverage areas can be found on the Optus website.