It's that frustrating time of the month again when the phone bill arrives. As I use my mobile phone to keep in contact with friends and family, I don't use the home phone to make calls. Why do I have a home phone? To get broadband Internet. I can't get rid of the home phone because I need to rent a little piece of copper wire in order to connect to my ISP.
While I cherish having an high-speed ADSL net connection, I loathe having to fork out cash to two separate companies for one service. I don't know how many people in Australia find themselves in the same predicament. If you're an apartment dweller with broadband, you've probably realised there aren't very many options available. Telecommunications companies generally won't install a cable service in "multiple dwelling units" so many people are forced into ADSL, which operates through regular telephone sockets.
Last week, Sydneysiders were served another solution, wireless broadband from Unwired. Unlike traditional wired broadband, which utilises copper wire laid out through your street, walls and home, Unwired's infrastructure is set up in a similar fashion to mobile phone networks.
It's not like satellite service either, which depends on line of sight for a connection. All you need is a special non-line-of-sight modem that plugs into your computer via USB or an Ethernet port. One of the best things about the service is the mobility it offers. You can't use it on the move like you would a mobile phone, or services like Vodafone Connect or Telstra's 1xRTT. However, you can take your modem with you to work, a friend's house, university, plug it in to any system and use the same broadband account. The modem can run off mains power and also supports battery-powered operation, so the only cable you need is from the modem to your PC/laptop.
With speeds similar to the structure of ADSL services, Unwired offers 256kbps, 512kbps, and 1Mbps services for comparable prices. On face value, the wireless service is a little higher than what I currently pay for broadband but as I generally make phone calls using my mobile phone, I can finally get rid of my home phone line- about $30/month in line rental last time I checked - and save money.
Another bonus if you're moving house is that you don't have to deal with switching over (and associated costs) to shift your broadband account to a new address; as long as you're moving into an Unwired covered area, you should be able to just plug back in your computer and be connected.
If you're stuck to your phone line because you need it to make local calls, next year Unwired plans to launch its Vocie over IP (VOIP) service, which will offer unlimited local calls for a fixed charge on top of your monthly fee.
Unfortunately, availability is currently limited to the Sydney area. With 73 towers around Sydney, Unwired claims that it can service 95% of Sydney's population, from Bondi to Penrith, Hornsby to Engadine.
If adoption rates increase and the service takes off, hopefully we'll see wireless broadband hitting homes throughout NSW and Australia in the next couple of years.
What do you think? Would you get rid of your home phone for a wireless service?
Whatever your question, comment or concern, if you'd just like to know more about a feature or need some advice, we'll offer our insight into these matters every week. Send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org or talk back to me below.