Optus Wireless Broadband InZone Modem
Share your Optus mobile broadband connection while at home or on the go
- Ethernet, Wi-Fi and USB connectivity; highly portable; send and receive SMS messages
- Expensive plans; unreliable and often slow 3G network; no option for external antennas
If you're looking to distribute your wireless broadband connection amongst multiple computers, the InZone Modem works well. However, trying to use the same slow 3G connection on more than one computer could cause headaches.
Price$ 300.00 (AUD)
The Wireless Broadband InZone Modem from Optus provides a 3G modem, 802.11g wireless router and 4-port Ethernet switch in one small, portable package. You can share your wireless broadband service with multiple computers at home or on the road, but Optus' unreliable and generally slow 3G network is frustrating.
The modem can be used like a conventional wireless broadband USB device, allowing you to simply plug it in and connect. However, like 3 Mobile's Wi-Fi Router, the Optus Wireless Broadband InZone Modem can also share your wireless broadband connection between two or more computers through its four Ethernet connections or 802.11g Wi-Fi. The modem can be powered via its USB port or using the supplied power adapter, which also plugs into the port. An RJ-11 phone jack allows you to plug in a telephone to make calls using the SIM card, and you can even wall-mount the modem.
Though not as small as the USB Slimline Modem from Optus, the InZone Modem is quite sleek for a wireless router. The SIM card tray is easily removed and the modem is sturdy enough to withstand the rigours of travel. To cut down on the footprint, it uses internal antennas for Wi-Fi and wireless broadband connections, but the lack of an external antenna connection limits its ability to retain a strong wireless broadband signal in areas of weak 3G coverage.
Both standalone software and a Web-based interface are provided. The Web interface is the more comprehensive of the two, allowing you to configure detailed Wi-Fi, network, SIM and wireless broadband settings. You can also configure the modem to log on to Optus' network automatically when a computer connects to it over Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
The supplied software is a little more basic than the Web interface. However, it allows you to send and receive SMS messages directly from a computer. In almost all circumstances, we found that the modem performed more reliably and generally faster when used over Ethernet and Wi-Fi as opposed to USB.
Optus' InZone Modem can deliver a theoretical maximum throughput of 7.2 megabits per second for downloading and 384 kilobits per second (Kbps) for uploading when connected to an HSDPA network. This is standard fare for a wireless broadband modem, but don't expect to see these speeds in reality; Optus' 3G network isn't comprehensive (users in Tasmania and the Northern Territory are restricted to its 2G network) and even well-covered areas can be troublesome.
We performed the majority of our testing with the device at our North Sydney offices. Here, we found that the InZone Modem struggled to retain a HSDPA connection, and continually switched between it and Optus' slower WCDMA (3G) network. This disrupted the connection for 5-10 seconds each time, though thankfully the modem doesn't completely disconnect from Optus' network. The modem received a slightly better signal when tested outside but, considering this modem is meant for use indoors, the connection problems are disappointing.
Our Broadband Speed Test showed that the InZone Modem was capable of reasonable throughput speeds: an average of 1707Kbps downlink and 212Kbps uplink over USB. Downlink speeds peaked at 2444Kbps when connected via Ethernet.
Unfortunately, real-world testing revealed much more inconsistent performance. Over USB, the Optus InZone modem took 1hr 11min to download the 70.8MB iTunes application over connection that fluctuated between HSDPA and WCDMA; an average speed of 15.5 kilobytes per second (KBps). In the same location while connected via Ethernet, it only took 9min 31sec to download the iTunes installation; an average speed of 124KBps.
Optus currently offers the InZone Modem for $300 outright or $10 per month on a 24-month contract. Its wireless broadband plans include a 1GB download quota for a monthly cost of $29.99, 2GB for $39.99, 5GB for $49.99 and 6GB for $59.99. Each plan can also be reduced by $10 per month when bundled with an Optus Mobile or Home Phone plan.
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