Vodafone NZ is market testing a 3G wireless router with a few selected customers which is capable of supporting VoIP phones.
The new router is likely to provide a major improvement in functionality of the 3G service, especially to rural customers who can get 3G but are either too far from the main exchange for broadband to work or have a poor quality line with interference from electric fences.
“We are using this modem as part of our RBI [Rural Broadband Initiative] testing, basically the modem acts as a wi-fi hotspot using the Vodem to pull down the 3G signal which is then broadcast via wifi though out the house,” says spokesperson Matt East.
“The RJ45 port allows a computer to be connected to the modem, this would also support a VoIP phone if connected as well. At this stage Vodafone doesn’t have a VoIP offering, however this is a market that we will be looking at.”
Customers would also have to open a VoIP account with a provider such as 2talk and have a VoIP or IP phone. 2talk can provide a single phone VoIP connection that has a local NZ number. The 3G network will bring minimum peak broadband speeds of 5Mbps to remote communities and households.
Vodafone is expected to bundle the 3G router with a term plan. The model is expected to be the Huawei D100 or similar 3G modem, which also has an RJ45 outlet.
The Huawei D100 is currently available through independent suppliers on Trade Me for a buy now price of $49.90. Calls through VoIP phones are much higher quality than through Skype which is the only alternative if you only have 3G broadband. The D100 router also provides wireless broadcasting on 802.11n for a further four devices.